Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Slot machines at Miami airport?

Looking for cash wherever they can find it, Miami-Dade officials say they are hoping to use a loophole in state law to acquire a license that would allow slot machines at Miami International Airport.

Not so fast, says state Rep. Bill Galvano of Bradenton, the Florida House's point man on gambling during the most recent session.

The Miami Herald's Naked Politics blog reports:
Miami Dade County leaders are ready to pounce on a loophole in state law that allows slot machines at leased facilities that hold a quarterhorse permit as a cure for their financial woes at Miami International Airport.

Miami-Dade commissioners voted Tuesday to allow the county manager to immediately seek the permit that would give the county the ability to apply for a slot machine license from state officials. See Matt Haggman's story today.

But legislative leaders are urging caution. Rep. Bill Galvano, the House rules chairman who led negotiations over gambling legislation, warned that if the state finalizes the compact with the Seminole Tribe and the gambling bill becomes law, the loophole will close.

"What they're proposing to do, they could not do if our bill becomes law,'' Galvano told the Herald/Times. "If our bill becomes law, they're going to have to build a racetrack.''

The slots/quarterhorse loophole that allows anyone with a quarterhorse permit to lease a facility to operate slot machines was tucked into the 2008 law but it was closed by the legislation that passed this year. The 2009 legislation imposed the same requirements on quarterhorse tracks that thoroughbred tracks now have to meet. The closing of the loophole will take effect when a negotiated compact becomes law.

"If I were the commission, I would proceed with caution,'' Galvano said.

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