No Slots For You: Florida Supreme Court Denies Bid By One-Time Barrel Racing Track

by | 05.19.2017 | 8:54am

Florida's Supreme Court on Thursday ruled against efforts by Gretna Racing in Gadsden County to add slot machine to its card room, simulcast and “live racing” facility. The unanimous decision by the court means dog tracks and jai-alai frontons in Gadsden and seven other Florida counties (Brevard, Duval, Lee, Hamilton, Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Washington) will be unable to get slot machines without legislative approval, despite each county having approved the gambling devices in local referendums.

Gretna was the first of several Florida operations to secure a pari-mutuel license by staging a series of unconventional races. It began with barrel racing, which Florida's Division of Pari-Mutuel Racing ultimately ruled did not constitute legitimate horse races, then transitioned to contests where two horses “competed” against one another for a short distance at the drop of a flag. Despite the farcical nature of the events, the races were deemed to have fulfilled the requirements of Florida law, according to an administrative law judge's ruling.

That approval allowed Gretna to operate a simulcast and card room, and its owners – which included Gulfstream Park lobbyist Marc Dunbar and one-time Gulfstream Park president David Romanik – challenged the Florida law that limited slots to Dade and Broward counties in South Florida.

The Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering denied their application and the Supreme Court agreed, reasoning that: “In the absence of such a specific authorization, a county cannot initiate a referendum that will authorize the Division to issue a license any more than the county could itself issue a slot machine gaming license.”

Read more at Miami Herald

Supreme Court's Decision

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