06/23/2005 11:00PM

Florida slots ruling to be appealed

Email

The state attorney for Broward County in Florida will appeal a recent state Circuit Court ruling that enjoined the state from enforcing laws against slot machines, the state attorney's office said Friday.

The Circuit Court ruling, released on Tuesday, said that four south Florida parimutuel sites should be allowed to begin operating slot machines as of July 1, in line with a statewide constitutional amendment passed in 2004 and a local referendum passed in Broward County in March. The referendum gave the legislature until July 1 to pass rules governing slot machines, but the legislature adjourned for the year on May 5 without passing any rules.

In his ruling, Broward County Circuit Court Judge Leroy Moe called on the Broward City Council to pass rules for the machines by July 1. If not, Moe said that he would draft rules himself.

Michael Satz, the Broward state attorney, said in a statement that the ruling will be appealed because of concern "about the manner and means by which the constitutional amendment is implemented."

"We believe the legislature is the appropriate body to establish rules and regulations relevant to all issues concerning slot machines," Satz said.

On Thursday, the Broward County Commission passed regulations limiting the four sites, which include Gulfstream Park, to 3,000 machines. The rules, which will likely be tabled because of the appeal, did not address a number of issues of concern to lawmakers, including background checks for employees and hours of operation.

The state attorney general, Charlie Crist, said that he would support Satz's appeal in a statement on Friday.

"The Florida legislature still has the opportunity, and the obligation, to enact implementing legislation as required by the constitutional amendment," Crist said. "The constitutional amendment does not provide for implementation by the Broward County Commission or the judiciary."

Gov. Jeb Bush campaigned against the referendum in March, but has said since that he accepts the decision of voters, and has hinted that the legislature may be called into a special session to address the rules.

Gulfstream Park's owner, Magna Entertainment, has not committed to any timetable to begin taking slot-machine bets.

Hollywood Greyhound Park has said that the earliest it would begin taking slot-machine bets is August, while another site, Pompano Park, has mentioned the beginning of 2006. The fourth site, Dania Jai Alai, has not released a timetable on when its casino could be up and running.