02/01/2012 1:42PM

Florida voters in favor of slot machines at barrel-racing facility


Voters in a northern county of Florida on Tuesday passed a measure that will allow a barrel-racing facility to operate slot machines.

The facility, Gretna Racing, is approximately 25 miles west of Tallahassee, near the border with Georgia, a state in which casino gambling is illegal. Gretna recently held the first-ever parimutuel barrel-racing meet in Florida, under a permit issued late last year by the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Racing.

While the Tuesday ballot measure passed overwhelmingly, by a margin of 6,042 in favor to 3,558 opposed, the vote does not ensure that the facility will be able to open a casino. The permit issued to Gretna is being challenged by a number of Florida horsemen’s groups, and the state’s attorney general, Pam Bondi, recently issued an opinion stating that casino licenses are not authorized outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, where a number of racetracks already operate slot machines, including Gulfstream Park and Calder Race Course.

Legislators in Florida have introduced contradictory bills that would either grant Gretna the authority to operate slot machines or deny any barrel-racing facility from holding parimutuel meets. The legislature’s regular session is scheduled to run through March 9.