Florida’s Supreme Court Puts End to Slots Expansion Hopes

The Florida’s Supreme Court has unanimously rejected a lawsuit filed by Gretna Racing operators who had claimed that a Gadsden County referendum had made it possible for the track to offer slot machines as part of its product suite.

Now, the Supreme Court of the state of Florida has made a ruling according to which pari-mutuel horseracing and dogracing operators are not allowed to offer slot machines to their customers without getting the state approval first.

So, instead of slot machines expansion across the state, the Supreme Court decision has instead restricted these operations only to the counties of Miami-Dade and Broward, where they are already allowed. If the Florida Supreme Court has given the green light to the expansion in the entire state, including in Palm Beach County. Unfortunately, the Court’s ruling has stripped the Palm Beach Kennel Club from the opportunity to offer slots machines for the time being.

Under the Supreme Court’s ruling, Florida counties have no legal right to ask their voters for approval of slot machines operations at existing pari-mutuel tracks without getting legislative or constitutional approval first. As mentioned above, Palm Beach and six other counties had asked their citizens to vote to approve slot machines, with some of them claiming that such a country referendum could allow slots machines operations without getting the official approval of state authorities.

The ruling was authored by Justice Charles Canady and signed by five other justices, all of them unanimously rejected that. The court’s newest justice, Alan Lawson, also signed the decision despite the fact he did not participate in the oral arguments that took place in June 2016. One of the justices – Peggy Quince – recused herself because of potential conflict of interest, as her daughter works for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s gaming division.

Justice Charles Canady explained that slots machines gaming was permitted by the restrictions of local Legislature in chapter 551. He also further said that Legislature gave no authority the right to regulate slots machine operations in the counties.

The newly-issued ruling of the court blocks the prospects for rapid growth of the slots machines operations any time soon. Until now, a number of counties, including Palm Beach, Gadsden, Brevard, Washington, Duval, Hamilton, Lee and St. Lucie, had voted to give the green light to the slots machines offering. Official representatives of the counties had even expressed their hopes for a favourable ruling from Florida’s Supreme Court that would have allowed them to install slot machines to their pari-mutuel racetracks until the end of 2017.

The opponents of the expansion, on the other hand, including the local Seminole Tribe, celebrated the Supreme Court’s ruling. At present times, it is the Seminole Tribe that holds the exclusive right to offer certain casino games across the state of Florida, as well as slot machines offering outside the counties of Miami-Dade and Broward. The Tribe’s spokesman commented on the Supreme Court’s ruling, calling it “very good” for both the state and the Seminole Tribe.

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Daniel Williams

Daniel Williams

Daniel Williams has started his writing career as a freelance author at a local paper media. After working there for a couple of years and writing on various topics, he found his interest for the gambling industry.

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