Florida Supreme Court to Decide Controversial Gambling Expansion Case

Casino Watch Focus has reported that Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi asked an appellate court to reconsider their 2-1 ruling on a slot machine case that would have huge gambling expansion implications. The case at hand involved a slot machine referendum that was passed by the Gadsden voters to authorized gambling machines, but in an area of Florida where the Legislature had not approved. The case seemed to be fairly clear-cut as the law requires more than local approval to expand gambling. The court asked the Supreme Court to take up the case. Now a local Miami CBS affiliate is reporting the Court has taken jurisdiction of the case:

 

The Florida Supreme Court will decide whether a Gadsden County racetrack should be allowed to have slot machines without the express permission of the Legislature, in a case with widespread implications for gambling throughout the state.

The Supreme Court’s ruling will likely affect gambling operations in Gadsden and at least five other counties — Brevard, Hamilton, Lee, Palm Beach and Washington — where voters have also approved referendums authorizing slots at local pari-mutuels.

In Tuesday’s order, the Supreme Court gave Gretna Racing’s lawyers until Dec. 21 to file initial briefs in the case. The state must file its response within 20 days, and Gretna has another 20 days after that to reply. Tuesday’s order also said the court would schedule oral arguments separately.

In the October ruling, Makar wrote that Bondi’s interpretation of the law was “spot on.” “The alternative view, which would restructure the statute and change its meaning to allow slot machines to be deployed on a statewide basis without any clear authority to do so, is inconsistent with principles of statutory and constitutional construction, legislative intent, and the history of laws prohibiting slot machines in the state of Florida,” he wrote.

Not only does the law seem to be on the Attorney Generals side, but so is the group No Casinos, as this decision could clearly lead to a tremendous amount of unintended gambling expansion throughout Florida. An ABC affiliate explains: 

The anti-gambling group No Casinos Inc. filed a motion on Friday to file a friend-of-the court brief. In its motion to the court, No Casinos addressed its concerns for the potential consequences for the outcome of the case.

“The movant (No Casinos) is concerned that if this expansion of gambling devices is allowed (and by logical extension, allowed for similar facilities in other counties), that will lead to proliferation of such devices, and will generally encourage casino-type gambling, contrary to the public interest and contrary to the law, as the movant will advocate,” the motion said.

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