Casino Watch Focus reported that an appellate court upheld a ruling that would allow the Florida legislature to expand gambling in the state without a vote of the people. Given the case involved the constitutionality of legislation to expand gambling, it has been assumed that an appeal to the Supreme Court would be filed. Now, The Associated Press is confirming those assumptions:
An appellate court decision that said the Legislature can approve slot machines anywhere in the state is being appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.
If allowed to stand, that ruling would allow lawmakers to permit destination casino resorts in Florida. Bills have been filed for the 2012 legislative session, which starts Jan. 10, to license three such resorts in South Florida.
The casino legislation is being opposed by some on moral grounds as well as competing interests. Tourism-related businesses such as Walt Disney World also are lining up against casinos because of the fear they’ll tarnish Florida’s family-friendly image.
This appeal is simply the first step. The Florida Supreme Court must first decide to hear the case. It is believed that given the magnitude of the case’s implications, the Court will do so and hear arguments on the case. The Associated Press continues:
The appellate court ruled the amendment doesn’t prohibit lawmakers from approving slots at facilities other than those that meet the amendment’s criteria. If the Supreme Court takes the case, it will hear two different arguments from Hialeah’s competitors.
Flagler and Florida Gaming say the amendment allows slots only at the seven Broward and Miami-Dade pari-mutuels. That interpretation would bar the Legislature from permitting slots anywhere else including casino resorts.
Calder’s position is the amendment applies only to pari-mutuels. That view would exclude Hialeah but let lawmakers authorize slots at casino resorts because they are not pari-mutuels.