March 8 vote set for Miami slots

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There’ll be a quick vote to determine
whether slot machines will be permitted at Miami-area pari-mutuel tracks but
even a positive result will not guarantee that the facilities will soon see the
machines in action.

County commissioners in Broward County
have approved having its residents vote on March 8 on whether to permit video
lottery machines at Gulfstream Park, owned by Magna Entertainment Corp. (MECA);
Pompano Park, owned by Isle of Capri Inc. (ISLE), and privately owned Hollywood
Greyhound Track and Dania Jai-Alai.

A date was not set immediately by
Miami-Dade commissioners that would affect Calder Race Course, owned by
Churchill Downs Inc. (CHDN), Miami Jai-Alai and Flagler Dog Track. They
discussed the possibility of placing a referendum on the same ballot that would
have authorized a pay increase for themselves. However, after an hours-long
debate, the pay raise idea was trashed.

The Miami-Dade vote will also face the
voters on March 8.

But the actual control over when and how
the betting emporiums can for forward with the additional gambling will be
determined by the state legislators who have until July 1, 2006 to specify just
how many machines can be placed at each property and what the state tax will be
on the machine revenue.

A November referendum, passed by 82,000
votes, calls for a change in the state constitution to allow voters in Broward
and Miami-Dade to decide on these so-called racinos. Taxes on the revenues will
be used to supplement public education funding statewide. Revenue estimates from
the additional gaming have reached as high as $400 million.

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