Iowans gamble;
Florida has doubts

Mar 1, 2005 9:04 AM

While lawmakers in Florida struggle with the prospects of expanded gaming, those in Iowa revel in the decision they made 16 years ago that has provided millions of dollars for state projects.

In fact, Iowa is so happy that they plan to expand gaming further to provide an additional $800 million for economic development, a plan that has been drafted by Gov. Tom Vilsack.

Iowa has 13 casinos, mostly riverboats, and three Indian casinos. The state now permits wagering on horses, dogs and the lottery, as well as slot machines, table games and poker at its casinos.

Florida, meanwhile, must cope with a vote last November that will permit video lottery machines to be installed at pari-mutuel facilities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, assuming the voters approve the measure on March 8.

Lawmakers in Tallahassee, Fla., now must come up with legislation that will decide how the machines will be taxed, how many of the devices will be allowed at each facility and just how many hours they can be operated on a daily basis.

If the polls are correct and the voters approve the slots next week, Gov. Jeb Bush will have to prepare to meet with the Indian tribal leaders to negotiate gaming compacts since federal law provides that Native Americans can operate the same gambling games permitted for private enterprises.

Affected by next week’s vote are: Hollywood Greyhound Track, Dania Jai-Alai, Pompano Park Racing, and Gulfstream Park in Broward County, and Miami Jai-Alai, Flagler Dog Track, Flagler Dog Track and Calder Race Course in Miami-Dade County.