Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing saga of a north Florida county attempting to legalize slot machines. Florida law very clearly outlines the jurisdictions of where slot machines and other gambling are legal, and Gadsden county is not one. The issue of voter approved slot machines in not designated areas reached the Florida Supreme Court and they unanimously agreed Florida law prohibited such gambling venues. However, it appears a new bill has been filed to again allow Gadsden County to hold a referendum on authorizing slot machine gambling at the local race track. Florida Politics breaks down the attempted angle they are taking:
A unanimous Florida Supreme Court last year ruled against the track and facilities in seven other counties that previously passed local referendums allowing slots, saying “nothing in (state gambling law) grants any authority to regulate slot machine gaming to any county.”
The holding was limited to non-charter counties, however. Gadsden does not have a charter but did pass a slots referendum in 2012. Tuesday’s bill responds to the court’s ruling that “the Legislature did not specifically authorize” that referendum.
It would OK the following ballot question: “Shall slot machine gaming be authorized at the pari-mutuel quarter horse racing facility in the City of Gretna?”
The issue was quickly addressed by Executive Direct of Florida group No Casinos, and Paul Seago was very to the point in his opposition:
“First, we think it violates the Florida Constitution, which prohibits expansion of casino gambling without a statewide vote,” he said. “Second, it sets up a violation of the compact between the state and the Seminole Tribe, jeopardizing millions of dollars in revenue.”
The Seminole Tribe of Florida enjoys exclusive rights to offers slots outside of South Florida; breaking that exclusivity entitles the Tribe to reduce or stop paying a cut of its gambling revenue to the state.
“Third, any municipality that thinks casino gambling is a key to economic development need look no further than Atlantic City to see the associated crime and social ills that come with it,” Seago added. “For these reasons we will vigorously oppose HB 1111.”
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