A legal showdown is about to begin over whether six counties where voters have approved slot machines can actually install them. The Attorney general says no, but courts and the legislature may have a different opinion.
The legal showdown will come after voters in conservative Lee County in Southwest Florida voted overwhelmingly for Mitt Romney.But these voters cast ballots even more solidly for slot machines, approving them by almost a two to one margin. They weren’t alone.
On election day, voters in Brevard and Palm Beach counties also said yes to slots. That brings the total to six counties that have said yes to slots since January. Prior to the first vote last January, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi told the Department that supervises slots that it didn’t matter how people voted, they could not issue a license.
Attorney Mark Dunbar, who has an interest in a barrel racing track in Gadsden County, which approved slots in January, disagrees. “There are a couple of cases that will likely be filed in the next six to eight weeks that will push the issue a little bit now that the voters have overwhelmingly said they would like to have slot machines at their pari-mutual facilities,” says Dunbar.
As slots backers get ready to go to court, state lawmakers are about to begin a two year review of every gambling regulation in the state. The state does already has slots, indian casino’s, boats to nowhere, and internet cafe’s. Senate President Don Gaetz set up the committee looking at gambling because each form is regulated differently. “We have completely unregulated aspects of gaming like internet cafes then we have over regulated aspects of gaming like some of our dog tracks and horse tracks” says Gaetz.
Any changes put the deal with the Seminole Tribe in jeopardy, The deal the state cut with the Seminole Tribe expires in two years, and another full court press for destination casinos is expected over the next two years.