The Broward County pari-mutuels are still awaiting the Florida Legislature decision on licensing gaming machines at the four venues, a measure approved by voters last spring. No agreement between the House and Senate was reached during the last session and there has been little movement on the issue until now. In the summer the pari-mutuels won court approval to go ahead with slot machine operations but preferred to await a decision from the Legislature.
It now appears that the House and Senate may be prepared to reach a compromise in a special session in December. The House wanted to limit slot machines to the Class II type at present found at the tribal casinos in Florida but the Senate and many people in Broward County said the vote had been for Class III slots as in Las Vegas. The Senate also felt that the tax rate proposed in the House was too high. Class III machines now look more likely in a compromise between the two views, but along with higher taxation rates.
Still to be resolved is the actual tax level to be set, the number of machines permitted and the hours of operation. Although the slot machine operations will be limited to two horseracing tracks, a dog tack and a jai alai fronton in Broward County, the tax revenues will go to the entire Florida education system. The House wants a 55% tax whilst the Senate wants a sliding scale starting at 35% and rising to 55% only on profits in excess of $500 million. The special session of the Legislature where the two sides may finally reach agreement will start 5 December. (E-11.10.05)
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