In Florida, Jacksonville City Council has overwhelmingly authorized a referendum for the coming November ballot that could see the BestBet Poker Jacksonville facility permitted to offer up to 2,000 slots.
The inclusion of the referendum on the next presidential election ballot was approved yesterday by a vote of 18 to one without any discussions and its passage would see Duval County join five other Florida counties in authorizing slots pending the outcome of a case currently going through the Florida Supreme Court.
Councilman Aaron Bowman, the sponsor of the referendum, told The Florida Times-Union newspaper that permitting slots could open the door for more job creation at the Arlington facility, which is already the state’s largest poker room and additionally simulcasts greyhound racing, while the city would expect to receive around 1.5% of any gross revenues from the machines.
Voters in the more rural Gadsden County approved a similar measure in 2012 that allowed Creek Entertainment Gretna to apply for a licence to operate slots. However, officials subsequently denied permission claiming that a 2004 amendment to the state constitution gave only the Seminole Tribe Of Florida authorization to operate the machines at non-tribal facilities in Miami-Dade County and Broward County.
Creek Entertainment Gretna took the matter to court arguing that a strict interpretation of state law does allow voters to authorize slots through a referendum so long as there an eligible facility in the county. In reply, the office of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi claimed that the legislature never intended for local referendums alone to decide where the machines are to be allowed.
Although the Florida First District Court Of Appeal in Tallahassee upheld the state’s position last year, Creek Entertainment Gretna appealed to the Florida Supreme Court and a final decision on the matter is now expected later in the summer.