Live greyhound racing resumes Friday (5/18) at Ebro Greyhound Park about 65 miles south of Dothan. It comes after an off-season during which voters in Washington County approved slot machines for the race course. However, the state has blocked a license for Ebro and other venues to operate the games.
A referendum aimed at legalizing slots was held in late January--- approved by an overwhelming margin. However, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said the vote is not binding without authorization of the Florida Legislature. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation said it will abide by Bondi's decision and not issue slot licenses to any pari-mutuel facility, not currently operating, without the approval of lawmakers.
The vote was based upon a constitutional amendment which allows slot machines in a portion of Dade County and Broward County. A 2010 revision to the amendment initially appeared to clear the way for referendums in other counties. A measure similar to the one passed in Washington County was approved by voters in Gadsden County where the Porch Bank of Creek Indians, an Alabama tribe, operates a pari-mutual horse barrel racing course but, as Ebro, has been blocked from receiving a slots license. Native American tribes also operate casinos including Hard Rock themed gaming centers near Miami and Tampa.
Governor Rick Scott sidestepped the issue during a recent visit to Dothan. However, the governor previously said he supports Bondi's opposition of slot machines in places other than where they operate at this time.
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