Florida court: Counties can decide whether to have slots

May 29, 2015
By Gary Fineout at Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Slot machines could be installed at several Florida dog and horse tracks if a far-reaching court ruling holds.

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.

Race track gambling

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.

State regulators had turned down the slot machine request due to a legal opinion by Attorney General Pam Bondi, who maintained that state legislators did not intend to allow additional counties to add slot machines at dog and horse tracks located outside of Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Voters in 2004 approved a constitutional amendment that authorized slot machines in the two counties.

Reviews underway

Bondi's office said it was reviewing the Friday decision, as did attorneys who represented track owners.

Creek Entertainment Gretna opened the track in December 2011 featuring the rodeo-style sport of barrel racing. The facility offers flat track horse racing as well as poker rooms and betting on races held at other tracks. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation turned down a request for slot machines in late 2013.

Judge Robert Benton wrote regulators did not base their denial on any errors or omission in the application and instead relied on Bondi's interpretation.

Read more here:

Back to News