At the time of the election, six counties in Florida had slot machine referendums to see if the voting public wanted to have slots available for them to play – and in all six counties, the referendums passed. Thanks to delays from the government in the shape of Attorney General Pam Bondi, however, what Floridians are starting to wonder is will slots arrive in their state at all?
The Attorney General is making a simple legal claim: that because the legislation from 2004 that allowed slot machine games in Broward and Miami-Dade need the law behind it, so too would any similar referendums throughout the rest of the state, and legislative permission has not yet been given for the six areas – which were Brevard, Gadsden, Hamilton, Lee, Palm Beach, and Washington. Now the Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Ken Lawson has stated that he too is of this opinion, and that he will therefore not be able to issue new slot licences outside of those two counties which already have legislation in place.
Those businesses who were looking forward to a boost in their sales and the players who voted to have them are now stuck in limbo, left wondering why a referendum was issued at all if the end result was not going to be anything solid. Some concern is laid at the door of the Seminole Tribe, who currently have a State Compact to pay $233 million every year to the state in exchange for being able to put their slot machines into their properties in the two counties recognised in 2004. This Compact does not expire until 2015, and there is some talk that if the state appears to violate their terms by allowing slot machines in other areas of Florida, then so too will the Seminole by stopping those annual payments and depriving local areas of a tax boost which they rely on in many areas. A Gaming Committee has been set up to take a close look at the Floridian gambling laws before pushing for movement in either direction.