Phil Ruffin Buys Casino Miami for Undisclosed Amount

Phil Ruffin Casino Miami

Phil Ruffin bought Treasure Island in Las Vegas in 2007, the same year he sold New Frontier Casino.

Phil Ruffin, a Las Vegas developer and Donald Trump friend, is buying Casino Miami, a gaming venue on the northeast stretch of Miami International Airport.

Ruffin told the Miami Herald, “We plan to bring Las Vegas to Florida.”

Neither side in the deal released the purchase price for Casino Miami (Dec. 15 update: $23.15 million). That price undoubtedly increased recently when Florida voters approved Amendment 3, when limited the state legislature’s ability to approve new casino licenses.

In effect, every new expansion of gambling must be approved in a statewide vote of the electorate. That probably means there will be no new casino licenses for a long time.

About Phil Ruffin

Phil Ruffin believes that makes existing Florida casino licenses much more valuable. Ruffin, an 83-year old native of Wichita, Kansas who became a Vegas billionaire by developing resorts like New Frontier Hotel & Casino and Trump International Tower, is assured of no new competition in the Miami area.

Ruffin, who bought Treasure Island from MGM Mirage in 2007, has a reputation for buying properties well under their real value. When the Las Vegas casino magnate bought Treasure Island for $750 million, he estimated it would have cost $2.7 billion to have built the resort from the ground up.

At the time, he sold New Frontier for $1.2 billion, thus trading up and still making $500 million in the bargain. Phil Ruffin knows when he can make a good deal better.

Casino Miami: On Pace for $72 Million in 2018 Revenues

Casino Miami is already a lucrative resort. The casino generated $60 million in revenues in the first ten months of 2018, which is an 8% increase year-to-year for the resort. The 8% represents a percentage double the statewide average.

The new owner said the casino’s 150-worker staff will maintain their jobs. Ruffin also plans to keep the official name of Casino Miami. Other changes are coming, though.

Phil Ruffin to Build Miami Hotel

The plot for Casino Miami has 21 acres of unused real estate. On the site of a major international airport, that land is good as gold. Citing the demand of visitors to stay as close to their airport as possible, Ruffin said he plans to build more hotel rooms for Casino Miami.

Ruffin said, “We will probably add some hotel rooms. We have 14 other hotels, we know that other business too.”

Sold by Fronton Holdings

Fronton Holdings is the Miami company which sold Ruffin the Casino Miami. Fronton Holdings bought the casino in 2014 in a bankruptcy auction. David Jonas, the chief executive officer of Fronton Holdings, told the Miami Herald he listened to offers from a number of developers and gaming companies.

Because of the Las Vegas developers’ vision for the property and his high offer, Jonas took Phil Ruffin’s offer. David Jonas assured Miami-area residents that Phil Ruffin was the right owner to take over the property.

Comparing Ruffin’s vision to the kind of bold, energetic vision of the Seminole Tribe’s Hard Rock International brand, Jonas said, “This is someone who can bring strong brands and ideas to Miami — he could create something Hard Rock-like. He’s got those concepts.”

Phil Ruffin and Donald Trump

Phil Ruffin is also close friends with US President Donald Trump. The two own 50% ownership apiece in the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas, a non-gaming resort just off the Las Vegas Strip. Phil Ruffin was the best man at Donald Trump’s last wedding.

Now that he owns a resort in Miami, Phil Ruffin might spend more time at the winter White House, Mar-a-Lago. In fact, it recently was announced that Ruffin would spend New Year’s Eve at Mar-a-Lago visiting with President Trump.