New Casino Miami racebook offers William Hill US potential entry if Florida legalizes sports betting Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports · November 26, 2019 at 5:40 am The legalization of sports betting is far from a sure thing in Florida, but sportsbook operator William Hill US is staking its claim to the potential market. In a deal announced Monday, the company said it will open a race book at Casino Miami, a gambling machine-only casino with a jai alai fronton that Las Vegas casino owner Phil Ruffin acquired nearly a year ago. In a statement, William Hill said the race book is expected to open next month, pending regulatory approvals. At its opening, the race book will offer parimutuel simulcast wagering. Bettors will be able to watch and wager on major thoroughbred, harness, and greyhound tracks from around the country, as well as jai alai. “Casino Miami is a great location with a modern space where we have created a first-class experience for all racing fans in the area,” William Hill US CEO Joe Asher said in a statement. “We look forward to working with Phil Ruffin and his team to enable our customers to bet on races from across the country.” Florida casinos and racetrack do not offer sports betting, although a St. Petersburg lawmaker said this month that he would propose legislation to legalize the activity. However, Florida voters in November 2018 overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment limiting future casinos outside Indian reservations. The measure was backed by the Seminole Tribe, which operates six of the state’s seven Indian casinos. It’s unclear if sports betting would be allowed under the change. “This new race book will provide us with an incredible amenity for guests and will place us at the forefront of the forthcoming Florida sports betting business,” Ruffin said in a statement. Phil Ruffin Ruffin paid $23.15 million for the real estate of Casino Miami, which is located 20 minutes from downtown Miami. The property has 1,000 slot machines and electronic table games – including blackjack and roulette – a live entertainment space, and a café dining area, along with a bar. The casino is licensed to hold 2,000 games. The property has 21 acres for potential future development. Ruffin said a year ago he had “exciting plans for Casino Miami.” The renovation of the race book area inside Casino Miami will cover 2,300 square feet space next to the casino’s poker room and will include 10 50-inch TV screens, in addition to a 30-foot video wall for racing fans to watch a variety of tracks simultaneously. Seating will include a mix of high-top tables and chairs and 30 race carrels. “William Hill has unparalleled expertise and a rich history in racing,” Ruffin said. “The company has led the industry for decades, and together we will bring state-of-the-art technology and innovation to Casino Miami.” Ruffin owns TI, the former Treasure Island, on the Las Vegas Strip, which he bought from MGM Resorts International in 2009 for $775 million. Last month, he agreed to purchase Circus Circus Las Vegas and its surrounding land from MGM Resorts for $825 million, which includes more than 100 acres on the north end of the Strip. The deal is expected to be reviewed by Nevada gaming regulators next month and could close before the end of the year. Ruffin, a Kansas developer, came to Las Vegas in 1998 when he purchased the New Frontier Hotel-Casino for $165 million. He sold the property to an Israeli development group for $1.2 billion in 2007. The group demolished the property but lost the land in foreclosure; Wynn Resorts now owns the site. Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.