Miami Residents Fight Backdoor Gambling Facility Deal

  • Billionaire Norman Braman filed legal motion on behalf of city's residents and business owners
  • Triggered by recent settlement of West Flagler's lawsuit against Miami regarding zoning rules
  • Claims the two parties entered sweetheart deal allowing group to develop Edgewater gambling facility 
Twilight view of Edgewater, Miami skyline
Residents and business owners of Miami are fighting an alleged sweetheart deal between the city and the West Flagler developers over the construction of a gambling facility in Edgewater. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Residents and businesses file motion

A group of Miami residents and business owners have taken legal action to stop a backdoor gambling deal going ahead between city officials and local development group West Flagler.

bogus lawsuit was ‘settled’ through a sweetheart deal”

A legal motion was filed by Norman Braman on behalf of various businesses, homeowner associations, neighborhood groups, and residents. He said the filing is “a motion to intervene in the federal case in which a bogus lawsuit was ‘settled’ through a sweetheart deal and as an end around the zoning code.”

Braman is an 87-year-old billionaire and former Philadelphia Eagles owner who operates an extensive car dealership business. A number of his outlets lie within the area of the Miami gambling facility in question.

Braman claimed that West Flagler and the City of Miami were on the same side, and that the citizens of Miami had their interests “trampled on by City officials” as a result. 

Action triggered by recent lawsuit settlement

West Flagler Associates obtained a permit for a poker and jai-alai facility in Edgewater, Miami in July 2018. Zoning rules for gambling establishments in the city were altered in September 2018, which led to the company suing the city for damages

mayor Francis Suarez vetoed the lawsuit settlement in February

The recent settlement of this suit is the cause of contention for Miami residents as it effectively gave the developers the go-ahead to proceed with the Edgewater project. The city’s mayor, Francis Suarez, vetoed the lawsuit settlement in February. 

Legal action at a difficult time

Braman noted that, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic sweeping across the United States, it was regrettable that legal action had to be taken during such a difficult time. However, the motion was filed to protect the residents’ right to decide whether Miami should allow gambling. 

He also pointed out that the settlement deal permitting the gambling facility was made between West Flagler and the City Attorney in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Braman said that if the city wants to allow gambling, residents should be given due notice. They can then have their say on the matter in a meaningful way, with elected officials being held responsible. He expressed hope that no further action will be taken by West Flagler and the City Attorney until the current pandemic is dealt with.