Adding a state-of-the-art casino with 1,035 slot machines has turned one of Miami's oldest parimutuel sites into an enormous money maker. Last year, Casino Miami Jai-Alai, located near Miami International Airport, collected $17.3 million in third quarter revenue compared to $1.8 million for the same period in 2011. No wonder Florida Gaming Corp. the company that owns the gambling site, is looking to sell Casino Miami Jai-Alai and its Fort Pierce casino and jai-alai facility for a cool $129.4 million.
But Florida Gaming Corp. minority shareholder Herbert Silverberg won't have any of it. He is suing Florida Gaming in Delaware Chancery Court to block the sale and claiming the father-and-son owners run the place as a "private fiefdom."
Silverberg claims the deal is stacked in favor of Florida Gaming Corp. Chairman W. Bennett Collett and CEO W. Bennett Collett Jr., the father-son team that runs the company. According to the complaint, the Colletts "have run the company as a private fiefdom, failing to hold shareholder meetings in years and causing Florida Gaming to engage in countless self-dealing transactions."
The sale will result in a reduced payout for Florida Gaming but provide valuable payments for the Colletts, who control the company and its three-member board, the lawsuit alleges.
Florida Gaming defaulted on an $87 million senior secured term loan in August 2012 and in late November announced plans to sell the Miami and Ft. Pierce parimuteuls to Silvermark LLC in a deal valued at $129.4 million, according to the suit.
But the deal will only net Florida Gaming $8.2 million, Silverberg said, whereas a competing offer promised a net value of $19.4 million.
(Neither Silverberg nor Collett's attorneys returned messages about the suit; we'll update the post when they do.)
Follow Francisco Alvarado on Twitter: @thefrankness.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.