The News Service of Florida - Feb. 1, 2012 -
Voters in two north Florida counties approved measures that may allow slot machine permits at pari-mutual facilities in the counties on Tuesday. The votes in Washington County near Panama City and Gadsden County near Tallahassee marked the first approvals of slot gaming by voters outside Miami-Dade and Broward County, but the future of the moves to bring Vegas style gambling to the two areas remains unclear. Attorney General Pam Bondi has cast doubt on whether the votes will allow slot permits to be issued, and the question now is likely to end up in courts. The dog track in Ebro in Washington County, north of Panama City, is seeking to offer slot gaming and a new barrel horse racing track in Gretna in Gadsden County would offer slots. About 3,800 voters in tiny Washington County voted "yes" on the slots referendum to about 2,800 opposed, according to preliminary results. In Gadsden County the vote was more convincing, approving the idea 63 percent to 37 percent. James Dorris, president of the PCI Gaming Authority, which owns the Gretna facility, said the company would now start the process to offer slots at the facility along I-10 west of Tallahassee. "We will now work through the licensing process with the State of Florida and deal with those who will erect legal obstacles to oppose the project," Dorris said. "We are grateful for the support shown by the vote today and remain committed to delivering on the promise of creating over 1500 new jobs by growing Creek Entertainment Gretna into a year round resort destination."
Panhandle Voters Say Yes to Slot Machines
Tallahassee, FL (AP) - Voters in the Florida Panhandle want to add slot machines to their local tracks.
Gadsden County voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly voted in favor of adding slot machines to a quarter horse barrel racing facility located in the tiny town of Gretna.
Referendum Gadsden-1 Slot Gambling
25 of 25 precincts - 100 percent
Yes, 6,042 - 63 percent
No, 3,558 - 37 percent
A slot machine referendum was also winning in Washington County but results were not yet final. Voters in that county are being asked to add slots at the Ebro Greyhound Track.
But voter approval doesn't guarantee the tracks will get the slot machines anytime soon.
Attorney General Pam Bondi has issued a legal opinion saying state law permits referendums to authorize slots only in two South Florida counties.
Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Ken Lawson says he will adhere to the opinion and deny slots licenses.
[UPDATE] Gadsden County, Florida - 8:45pm
Final results: Slots approved w/ 62.94%, tax option approved w/ 68.33%
Gadsden Final results: Gingrich 37.13%, Romney 30.05%, Santorum 22.15%
33.7% voter turnout in #Gadsden
Press Release from Creek Entertainment Gretna
Gadsden County Voters Say “YES” to Slots
Voters approve referendum to allow slot machines at Creek Entertainment Gretna
Gretna, Fla. – Gadsden County voters today overwhelmingly approved a referendum to allow slot machines at Creek Entertainment Gretna, a pari-mutuel facility in North Florida.
“We are very excited that the voters of Gadsden County recognized the economic development and job opportunities that Creek Entertainment Gretna can provide for the local economy,” said James Dorris, President and CEO of PCI Gaming Authority. “With the passing of the referendum, we believe we have completed the requirement set up in the statutes to have slot machines at our Gretna facility. We will now work through the licensing process with the State of Florida and deal with those who will erect legal obstacles to oppose the project. We are grateful for the support shown by the vote today and remain committed to delivering on the promise of creating over 1500 new jobs by growing Creek Entertainment Gretna into a year round resort destination.”
“Gretna is a wonderful community, and it is a privilege to be able to provide jobs here,” noted Tribal Council Member and Chairman of the PCI Gaming Board Keith Martin. He continued, “Our Tribe takes great pride in all of our properties and the quality of entertainment that they offer. We are excited that Creek Entertainment Gretna will assist the economic well-being of our neighbors in North Florida.”
Gretna is a small, rural community nestled in Gadsden County where the median income is $25,000. More than 30 percent of the population is below the federal poverty line.
“This vote has changed the City of Gretna for the better,” said Gretna Mayor Clarence Jackson, “We will have better schools, better infrastructure and be able to provide jobs to the people of Gretna so that they may live and work in the City of Gretna.”
“Gadsden County residents have spoken loud and clear – they need jobs here – and now they will have the opportunity to have jobs,” said Gadsden County Commissioner Brenda Holt. “We are just happy that the voters had the opportunity to cast their vote for a brighter future for Gadsden County.” Commissioner Holt’s district encompasses the City of Gretna.
“Gadsden County and the City of Gretna have worked hard to distinguish themselves as a pro-business community,” said David Gardner, Executive Director of the Gadsden County Chamber of Commerce. “This is a great place to do business and we look forward to the additional businesses Creek Entertainment will bring to our community.”
Quote from United Florida Horsemen on today's Gadsden County slot referendum (1/31):
“Notwithstanding the fact that the Gadsden County Slot referendum was held based the unlawful premise of “pari-mutuel barrel racing,” the travesty is that, regardless, of tonight’s outcome, the people of Gadsden County and the City of Gretna are being cheated out of exponentially jobs and long-term economic development they could have had if Gretna Racing LLC were holding legitimate Quarter Horse racing instead. For those who doubt that fact, the truth is now in the numbers: Real Quarter Horse racing at Hialeah Park has out-earned and outperformed Gretna’s “pari-mutuel barrel racing” by over 99 percent—all with no cardrooms, slots or bailout from the taxpayers of Florida. As for job creation? Hialeah has over 800 employees who received their pari-mutuel license at the facility. Gretna has only 38. Proof that real jobs created by real horse racing are something slot machines can never replace.”
For more information, contact:
Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association: Kent Stirling (305) 628-2989 or email@example.com
Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association & Florida Quarter Horse Breeders’ and Owners’ Association: Dr. Steve Fisch, DVM (850) 510-9650 or sfischDVM@avsequinehospital.com
Gadsden County, Florida - January 30, 2012 - 7:57pm
10/27 precincts reporting: yes to slot referendum has 64.23%. Yes to tax referendum has 68.81%
Gadsden County, Florida - January 30, 2012 -
In early and absentee voting, the slot referendum is winning by more than 1000 votes. The tax option referendum is winning by 1300 votes. More than 4700 votes were cast during early voting and by absentee ballot .
Stay with WCTV for updates.
Referendum Gadsden-1 Slot Gambling
1 of 25 precincts - 4 percent
Yes, 2,441 - 64 percent
No, 1,391 - 36 percent