Jacksonville Race Track Challenges a Florida Decision Banning Slots

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The big news this week was a Supreme Court decision that opens the door to legalized sports betting for individual states within their borders. On the undercard of court cases involving the real money gambling industry is a court battle with the state of Florida and the Jacksonville Kennel Club.  SCROLL DOWN

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According to a recent report by PlaySlots4RealMoney.com, the Jacksonville Kennel Club, which operates as bestbet Jacksonville is appealing a recent state decision to deny its request for a slot machine license. Bestbet Jacksonville filed a notice of appeal earlier this week with the 1st District Court of Appeal. This was on the heels of a denied slots machine application with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). The denial came in April from the DBPR as the regulatory real money gambling arm for its Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering in Florida according to this report.
One issue behind the denial is strong opposition from the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The state brings in millions of dollars of revenue from the Seminole Tribe’s casino operations outside of South Florida. One of the conditions of the current agreement gives those casino operations the exclusive right to offer slot machines. Another sticking point for bestbet Jacksonville getting slots is a proposed constitutional amendment on the state voting ballot this November. Voters statewide would have to approve any expansion off further gambling endeavors. Supporters of this measure made note that the results would be retroactive.

Bestbet Jacksonville’s stance on this issue in the form of an appeal is last May’s Florida Supreme Court decision concerning slots. The unanimous decision according to this report denied slot machines to a race track in Gretna, Gadsden County as well as other counties that already passed local referendums authorizing the expansion of Las Vegas slot machines. Duval was one county approving the expansion, leading bestbet Jacksonville to pursue slot machine gambling to its poker and simulcast wagering. According to Justice Charles Canady, “nothing in state gambling laws grants any authority to regulate slot machine gaming to any county,” in a direct quote included in the EasyMobileCasino.com article.


Judge Canady added, “The general power of non-charter counties to ‘carry on county government’ does not constitute authorization to conduct a referendum to approve slot machine gaming.”

The Florida Association of Counties defines county charters as follows, “Charters are formal written documents that confer powers, duties, or privileges on the county.” Since Duval is a charter county, the Jacksonville race track has made the argument that the decision to deny slot machines to the race track Gretna, Gadsden County does not apply to charter counties.

The DBPR obviously views things in a different light. It has countered that those slot referendums in Duval and other Florida counties were not allowed due to a statewide 2004 constitutional amendment that was narrowly passed at that time.  As an interesting sidebar included in this report, the same measure did legalize slots at existing jai-alai frontons and horse and dog tracks in Broward and Miami-Dade counties once the measure was approved by a county referendum, which it was.

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