There seems to be little progress in Florida on the decision by Broward County voters to permit slot machines at its four pari-mutuel locations. The arguments still rage whether the vote would allow Class III machines as found in Las Vegas operations or Class II machines like those presently being operated in Florida’s tribal locations. If the Legislature finally come to a decision and allow Class III machines then the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes would be eligible to negotiate a similar deal for their casinos.
On Monday Florida’s Governor Jeb Bush, who campaigned vigorously against allowing slot machines at the state’s pari-mutuels and is believed to have swung the Hispanic vote in Miami Dade in sufficient numbers to defeat the proposition there, blamed the lawmakers for stalling negotiations with the Seminole tribe. As lawsuits and counter lawsuits rage in the courts, the Senate and the House have come to a standstill on the implementation of the constitutional amendment allowing the Broward County pari-mutuels to operate slot machines. The two chambers cannot agree on what is a slot machine; the Senate in May supported the Class III but the House is pushing for Class II.
Until the legislature resolves the impasse the tribal negotiations cannot continue. If Florida decides to limit the pari-mutuels to Class II machines then the tribal casinos will remain as they are now, with very lucrative video lottery style terminals that look very similar to the Las Vegas machines. Whatever the outcome, they are looking at increased competition. Once the legislature does reach agreement on machine classification the next issue to be under discussion is taxation levels. If the level is too high, the pari-mutuels may be little better off at the struggling racing venues than they were before the referendum. (E-08.03.05)
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