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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

No Moe Stalling on Slots

- According to the Miami Herald, the failure of the Florida legislature to deal with slots is not the first time voter mandates have been ignored.

In the past decade, the Legislature has ignored a constitutional mandate to put money into a high-speed train and failed to follow voters' direction on an amendment creating an education Board of Governors. It has also ignored an amendment requiring sugar growers to clean up the Everglades -- by imposing a penny-per-pound sugar tax -- and it continues to delay full implementation of the 2002 class-caps amendment.

Each time, interest groups have tried to take legislators to task, but none succeeded. Only the environmentalists won a court order to force the Legislature to act on the sugar amendment -- but the Florida Supreme Court ruled they could not force the Legislature's hand and threw the case out.

This time, the Legislature is up against the well-funded parimutuel industry, which believes that every day that passes is one more day they can't make money from slot machines.

The potential profits are so great that one parimutuel industry lobbyist predicted that if Broward's jai alai fronton starts operating slot machines July 1, they could earn enough money in two weeks to pay their legal bills to finance the lawsuit and any subsequent challenge. [Miami Herald]
Gambling opponents did not back down in the face of the ruling and warned the pari-mutuels against acting too swiftly.
Rep. Marco Rubio, a Miami Republican, called [the] ruling flawed and predicted that the judicial scolding will be short-lived.

''There is simply no constitutional basis for conferring regulatory power over gaming to a county commission or a judge,'' he said. ``This decision will be quickly reversed.''

Rubio warned that without state regulation, the parimutuel industry should be careful about bringing slot machines into Broward County because the Legislature can later trump any rules the county or the judge write.

''Any parimutuel that invests any significant amount of resources into their facilities based on regulations created by a judge or county commission does so at great peril,'' he said.
The ruling by Judge Leroy Moe left little doubt as to how he felt about the legislature’s inaction, asserting that lawmakers "evidently have deliberately refused to pass legislation implementing their own constitution….My point is the [pari-mutuel operators] have a clear right to have slot machines in their establishments…There's no question about that." [Sun-Sentinal] Still, there won’t be any slots on July 1, as it will take far more time for even just the county to establish regulations; Hollywood Greyhound’s VP Dan Adkins said two months is a more reasonable time frame, and added "That was the most respect of the voters of this state that I have ever seen anywhere.” Including the 2000 presidential election I presume.

- Trainer Wally Dollase says that Fleur de Lis winner Two Trail Sioux will aim for the July 31 Go for Wand at Saratoga, which is expected to attract Ashado. [Daily Racing Form]