Florida Supreme Court Opens Door For Widespread Gambling Expansion
The gambling debate in Florida has been ignited in recent years, and lawmakers are battling over whether to allow Vegas-style casino resorts in the Sunshine State. On Friday, the state Supreme Court opened the door for widespread gambling expansion in Florida.
The Supreme Court denied an appeal by pari-mutuel interests that had challenged a ruling in October that allowed Hialeah Racetrack to open with slot machines and other gambling games. The pari-mutuels felt that the track should have lost its rights to operate slots, and the lawsuit also questioned whether lawmakers had the authority to expand gambling.
The Supreme Court on Friday agreed with the lower court ruling that the Legislature has the right to authorize gambling expansion. That ruling could now open the door for the full-fledged expansion that pro-gaming groups have been seeking for the past several years.
"I'm gratified that our position was upheld, and I'm certainly relieved of the uncertainty that it caused," said Hialeah President John Brunetti. "And I just hope the industry can be more cooperative as we go forward. This constantly battling amongst ourselves isn't proving to be to anyone's benefit."
The battle may now shift from pari-mutuel versus pari-mutuel, to pari0mutuel and gaming interests versus the Seminole Indian tribe. The tribe has a compact with the state that gives them exclusivity for games such as blackjack and baccarat, and also exclusivity of slot machines outside of South Florida.
If lawmakers continue to move forward with their plan to allow casino resorts such as the ones that can be found in New Jersey and Nevada, the legislators risk violating the terms of the compact. The agreement with the Seminoles was for five years. After the five years, the lawmakers could expand gambling without consequence.
Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson has been among the gaming interests that have put the full court press on Florida lawmakers. Adelson has had several meetings with Governor Rick Scott, including Scott flying on Adelson's private jet shortly after he won the Gubernatorial election.
April 29, 2012
Posted By Terry Goodwin
Staff Editor, CasinoGamblingWeb.com
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