UPDATE: Backlash Heard as Florida Courts Rule in Favor of Expanded Slots Gambling Case

Casino Watch Focus has reported that the Florida District Court of Appeals took up a gambling case involving slot machines licenses. The case involved whether to grant a slot machine license to Gretna Gaming. A local referendum was passed in the county to expand gambling though new slot licenses, but the Florida Attorney General’s office said they wouldn’t be issuing the license because the county lacked the authority to issue such a license. The court has ruled in favor of issuing the license, and the ruling has far reaching implications for the entire state. The Florida Times-Union explains:

A Florida appeals court on Friday ordered state regulators to award a license for slot machines to a facility located 25 miles west of Tallahassee. The decision has the potential to once again upend the state’s complicated gambling laws that currently limit slot machines to south Florida tracks and casinos run by the Seminole Tribe.

The 1st District Court of Appeal ruled 2-1 that a state agency should have approved slot machines because voters in Gadsden County approved a referendum authorizing them.

The ruling could have a wide impact because voters in Lee, Brevard and Palm Beach counties as well as the north Florida counties of Hamilton and Washington have approved similar referendums. The judges in their ruling asked the state Supreme Court to make a final decision on the case.

Opposition was heard immediately, and the Florida Supreme Court will likely be the next stop given the controversial and unexpected 2-1 vote by the Appellate court. The Saint Peters Blog reports:

In the wake of Friday afternoon’s surprise 1st District Court of Appeal ruling allowing *Entertainment Creek* in the Gadsden County city of Gretna to move forward in implementing new slot machines, the Orlando-based anti-gambling advocacy group *No Casinos *issued a stern rebuke of the decision.

“Today’s court ruling has far-reaching implications for the people of Florida. When voters narrowly approved a constitutional amendment in 2004, the will of the people was to limit slot machines to existing locations in two Florida counties,” executive director *Paul Seago *said in a written statement.

In a reference to the state’s ongoing negotiation with the *Seminole Tribe of Florida *over their exclusive rights to operate card games, Seago continued: “If this ruling stands, it could negatively impact communities across the state as well as jeopardize compacts in place with Native American tribes, costing the state billions of dollars.”

“We call on the Florida Supreme to review this case and once and for all enforce the limitations on gambling that have been part of the Florida Constitution since 1968,” the statement concluded.

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