Florida Regulators Put on Hold the Sale of Magic City Casino

A Native American Tribe in Alabama was determined to buy the Magic City Casino in Miami. Yet, the Florida Gaming Control Commission took more time before ruling on the sale due to a redacted application.

The 103-page application’s redaction to transfer the Magic City pari-mutuel permit to WindCreek Gaming LLC, which the Poarch Band of Creek Indians owns, from the Havenick Family’s West Flagler Associates greatly influenced the Commission to delay its ruling.

John Maclver, the Commission’s chairman stated that it wouldn’t be right if the commission opted to act when the documents had an over-redaction while the public hadn’t gotten a chance to consider them. The official informed West Flagler representatives that the Commission would hold another meeting in a few weeks to deliberate on the application.

Details About the Redacted Application

No Casinos Inc. is one of the leading critics of the Commission’s decision claiming that it was formed to increase public participation and disclose such decisions that the state makes about its gambling industry. It further argued that the public requires the ability to witness the tires of any trade that isn’t a secret.

They claimed that 94 percent of the document was inaccessible to the public in the application whose 101 pages were heavily redacted. John Lockwood, a Magic City lawyer, claimed that the redactions would prevent the avoidable dissemination of documents that the public cannot access.

According to him, the trade secrets aren’t covered by the state’s open-record regulations. Yet, the lawyer promised to partner with the Gaming Control Commission to create a less redacted application.

More About Magic City Casino

The gaming venue launched as the Flagler Dog Track in 1931 and got a gambling license in 1935. But, the Havenicks bought it in 1951. It retained its license after the state banned Greyhound racing in 2018 thus transforming it into a casino.

The state of Florida gave Flagler Dog Track and several pari-mutuel sites approval to offer card games and operate slots in 2004. Flagler Dog Track was later rebranded to Magic City Casino. It has jai alai matches and 800 slot machines.

WindCreek Miami LLC currently has two North Florida gambling permits, a Gretna poker room, a barrel racing track, a Pensacola cardroom, and a greyhound permit. The Poarch Creek Indian Tribe has ventured into the United States gaming market for more than a decade. They have 10 gaming sites like the Bethlehem-based Sands Casino Resort that it bought for $1.3 billion in 2019 from Sands.

The Havenicks Are Still in the Gambling Industry

The pending deal will transfer Magic City Casino’s ownership from the Havenicks. But, the family won’t leave the betting industry. The Poarch Creek deal excludes Casino Miami, a gambling venue that offers card games, slot machines, and jai alai.

The Havenick Family will retain its betting permit to run a poker room and a summer jai alai fronton at 3030 Biscayne Boulevard in Miami Edgewater. Crescent Heights owns the property and Russel Galbut leads it.

The Havenicks agreed with Miami City in 2021 on a lawsuit against it for banning betting in Edgewater. They agreed that their jai alai fronton would lack slot machines.

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