Florida reaches into wallet to improve slot chances

Nov 5, 2002 12:49 AM

   Racetrack owners in Florida have gone to their wallets to lobby for legislation that would legalize video gaming machines next year.

   The Miami Herald reports that the potential payoff to the State for slot machines at parimutuel sites could reach several hundred million dollars.

   The odds of seeing video slots would be better if current Gov. Jeb Bush is defeated by Democratic challenger Bill McBride In next week’s election.

   “I don’t have any knee-jerk reactions against looking at the plan with fresh eyes,” McBride said.

   Bush killed the effort to legalize video gambling at pari-mutuels during the past legislative sessions.

Elections key to slots

   The future of alternative gaming at racetracks could be determined by the election results in six states.

   Arizona, Iowa, Maryland, New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania all have propositions on the ballot. The issue in Arizona is to have a limited number of slot machines at horse and dog tracks.

   Iowa voters are being asked to determine whether to continue Slot machine gaming at Prairie Meadows. Maryland comes down To the gubernatorial battle between Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Robert Ehrlich. Townsend is against race track slots.

   New Hampshire also involves a governor’s race between Craig Benson and Mark Fernald. Rockingham Park’s racing future could be determined by the outcome. Owners of the track are looking at relocating near the Massachusetts border.

   Ohio’s chances for gaming improve if Timothy Hagan Beats incumbent Gov. Bob Taft. Pennsylvania seems to have the Best chance at gaming with both candidates supporters.

Cal tribes deliver

   Tribal leaders presented a $1 billion symbolic check to state officials in Los Angeles last week, honoring the terms of a gaming compact signed three years ago.

   Nearly 70 to 80 percent of the money from the Indian Gaming Special Distribution Fund came from tribes in San Bernadino and Riverside Counties.

   “Indian gaming, as it is known today, throughout the United States, was born here in the inland Empire,” said Lynn Valbuena, a San Manuel tribal member. “The inland Empire will deliver the bulk of the monies to the state over the course of this historic compact.”

   The $1 billion payments will go to the state on a quarterly basis from now until 2020.

   Foxwoods future in air

   The election of a new chairman for the Mashantucket tribe could have a major impact on the future growth of Foxwoods Resort Casino.

   The Mashantuckets carry economic muscle in the state with more than 10,000 jobs and Foxwoods becoming a round the clock tourist attraction.

   Former chairman Skip Hayward has grand plans for a multi-billion dollar resort expansion. The other candidate, Tribal council treasurer Michael Thomas, also favors an upgrade but on a more conservative basis.

   There are 350 tribal members eligible to vote in the election this week.

   ALSO: Las Vegas icon Steve Wynn announced last week that he hopes to break ground on a Macau casino in January. The New Jersey State Senate approved the appointments of high-ranking Casino regulators Linda Kassekert and Thomas Auriemma to the Casino Control Commission. Kassekert will become the first woman to head the Commission.