Las Vegas businessman Phil Ruffin purchased Casino Miami shortly after Florida voters approved a gambling-related amendment which will limit further casino expansion in the state.
Treasure Island owner Phil Ruffin has purchased a casino near downtown Miami, in a move which sees the entrepreneur expanding his gaming footprint to the East coast.
The acquisition comes shortly after Florida voters passed an amendment in November which looks set to halt new gaming developments in the state.
Marking his first gaming acquisition in a decade, Ruffin bought the 200,000 sq ft Casino Miami for an undisclosed sum. While the purchase price of the property has not been revealed, it was previously sold in 2014 for $155m.
“I look forward to entering the Miami gaming market through this acquisition. We have exciting plans for Casino Miami that we will be revealing in the near future,” said Ruffin.
Casino Miami offers 1,012 slot machines and ETGs, along with live entertainment space, bar, café dining area, live jai-alai games and simulcast betting.
Figures from the UNLV’s Center for Gaming Research show the property generated $68m in GGR in 2017 and $60m over the first 10 months of last year.
Ruffin’s spokeswoman Michelle Knoll said the billionaire intends to build a hotel on the 21-acre property, but did not give any further details.
Ruffin’s purchase comes just a month after voters in Florida approved Amendment 3 which gives them the right to authorise casino expansion in the state – through “citizen-initiated ballot measures” – instead of the state legislature.
“It’s been impossible to enter that market. There will be no more casinos in Florida without a 60 percent approval rating from the public. It’s almost impossible to get,” Ruffin clarified. “Of the seven casinos that are left, the value of their licences jumped substantially.
“We heard about this asset being for sale. It had a lot of hair on it …lawsuits and all kinds of things. I didn’t need financing, so we made an offer and got it.”
Supported by Disney and the Seminole Tribe, the amendment will make it more difficult for the state’s gaming industry to expand, driving up the value of its current gaming licences.
“[Ruffin] had been interested in the Florida gaming market for quite some time. When this property came available, he felt that it met his financial parameters for acquisition. This purchase became even more valuable with the Florida law that will seriously impair the issuance of future gaming licenses,” Knoll stated.
Machine numbers at Florida’s eight casinos are capped at a maximum of 2,000, while only the Seminole Tribe of Florida are allowed to operate table games.
The casinos are required to pay an annual licensing fee of $2m plus a $250,000 regulatory fee to help fund Florida’s programme for compulsive gambling.