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

  • John Asgeirson

    Hialeah Park announced its racing schedule yesterday. More questions than answers but definitely not like previous QH meets.

    • kim

      When is the meet?

      • Tres Abagados Stupidos

        It’s on their website. Two performances a day. Wednesday – Sundays in June only. Does not say how many races make up a “performance”. My guess will be 4 or 5 races each performance.

        • Four Race Horses

          Florida law defines a “performance” as 8 races. What those races will be is anyone’s guess. The educated surmise it will be Gretna-style flag drops, which are now very much legally recognized as “horse racing” in Florida.

          • Eric

            Could be. I was assuming that they were going to at least run match races from the gate, which have a semblance of credibility. The release from Hialeah lists Larry Hill as the “racing secretary” and he has worked as a steward and racing official at Florida racetracks in the past, so its possible that the racing will be somewhat legitimate, as compared to the nonsense at Gretna. In any event, I am guessing that the racing will not be recognized by AQHA, will not be recorded by Equibase, and will not be available for any off site wagering.

          • John Asgeirson

            Match races are bush track stuff. The track owner and Horse men’s Association failed and this is a joke to keep the slots and card room. How many stalls are available for horses and who are the owners and trainers that will run there. ????

  • Richard C

    – Scamster Racing –

  • DeePet

    Finally, the Florida Supreme Court does something right. That place (the so-called racing area) is scary.

    • Four Race Horses

      The sad part is how the FSC ruling mentioned nothing of how horse racing was bastardized and continues to be trashed into oblivion to achieve Gretna’s goal. Even sadder is that the entire racing community with all its resources can’t even connect nary a dot on this very point. The laughable part is how two entire branches of Florida government have been duped and tied up in knots over a complete scam.

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