The Palm Beach County Commission has agreed to hold a county-wide referendum on allowing slot machines next November. A successful vote would be a victory for the Palm Beach Kennel Club, which has faced difficulties competing with pari-mutuel facilities in neighboring Broward and Miami-Dade counties, both of which have the right to offer slots to their customers. The 80-year-old facility is presently limited to live greyhound racing, simulcast wagering and poker.
The decision to hold the referendum comes against the broader debate to expand casino gaming in the southeast portion of the state. A bill that would create three $2 billion casinos is presently being considered by the legislature. The Commission vote was seen as a victory for the kennel club’s owners, the Rooney family, who have argued for the right to add slots as a way to restore competitive balance and protect the local economy.
"You are competing with other places in your industry,” Mat Forrest, a lobbyist for the kennel club, told the Sun Sentinel. “The pari-mutuels in Broward and Miami-Dade have an advantage because they have a product that you can't sell.”
If successful, the referendum outcome would still depend on Florida’s State Supreme Court upholding a lower court ruling that gives counties the right to legalize slot machines via local voter approval without amending the state’s constitution.
Palm Beach County to vote on slots in 2012
December 21, 2011