08/09/2006 11:00PM

Magna undeterred by lawsuit


Magna Entertainment Corp., the owner of Gulfstream Park in Florida, will proceed with its plans to construct a slot-machine facility at Gulfstream despite the reinstatement on Tuesday of a lawsuit challenging a referendum sponsored by a group it supported - Floridians for a Level Playing Field - Magna said in a release late Wednesday.

"MEC believes that [Tuesday's] decision is incorrect and if a trial were to be held, that [Floridians for a Level Playing Field] would prevail on the merits," the statement said.

Slot machines were legalized at Gulfstream and three other parimutuel facilities in Broward County in early 2005 after voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2004 allowing for local referenda on the gambling devices. The constitutional amendment was put on the 2004 ballot after a petition drive spearheaded by Floridians for a Level Playing Field, which received its funding in part from parimutuel facilities in the state.

The Florida District Court of Appeals for the First District on Tuesday reinstated a lawsuit filed by the Humane Society of the United States and a group opposed to dog racing that alleged that signatures collected by Floridians for a Level Playing Field were obtained fraudulently.

Magna plans to install 500 slots at Gulfstream by Oct. 15. Florida law allows for a maximum of 1,500 slot machines at each of the four parimutuel facilities where the devices are legal.