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State gambling regulators fending off challenges with two barrels

Florida's gambling regulators are fending off legal challenges on two fronts today, both because of their decision to issue two pari-mutuel permits -- one to a barrel-racing track in North Florida and another to a summer Jai Alai permit in Miami.

The state's Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering argued in the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee Monday that it's decision to issue a barrel racing permit to a new horse track in Gretna should not be put on hold. The stay is being sought by the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association which is challenging the permit as illegal, claiming barrel racing is not a legitimate pari-mutuel activity.

Owners of the track, however, argue that the state never defined what constitutes horse racing, allowing for the liberal interpretation employed to allow for barrel racing.  

Meanwhile, in Leon County Circuit Court, the owners of the Mardi Gras Casino filed suit against the state on Friday for issuing a summer jai alai permit to the owners of Magic City Casino arguing that the never-used loophole written into state law in 1992 is unconstitutional. After Magic City obtained its permit, the owner of the barrel race track applied for a permit to build a jai alai fronton in western Broward County on property owned by developer Ron Bergeron. The state last week rejected the permit because it was incomplete.

Both cases have this in common: the holders of the new pari-mutuel permits see it as a way to leapfrog into more lucrative gambling offerings, such as poker rooms and slot machines. As these loopholes widened, Sen. John Thrasher, R-Jacksonville, last week called for legislation to close the loopholes before lawmakers consider bringing resort casinos to South Florida.




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Florida Horsemen

While the State of Florida grapples with a $2 billion budget deficit, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation is simultaneously expending untold taxpayer funds to escalate and exacerbate a costly legal battle to defend the expansion of gambling, to which Florida’s top-ranking state legislators have repeatedly voiced their increasing opposition during the past several weeks.

Florida regulations stipulate that pari-mutuel permitholders must demonstrate that they can protect the flow of revenue to the State. Meanwhile, "pari-mutuel barrel racing" is killing the revenue that could have been had with legitimate racing, killing jobs in the horse racing industry, hammering the gravestones with taxpayer-funded litigation and paying Florida legislators to contemplate the whole thing. That’s REAL government waste.



Florida Horseman, please tell me what is legitimate racing? That definition will be interesting to read. There is no question Florida regulations concerning all gambling are now so convoluted; because of years of trying to protect special interest groups, that there isn't a clear definition of what a horse is, let alone a horse race. The gamblers don't care what kind of race is offered or what kind of horse is racing.
And what does "protecting the flow of revenue" mean to racing. Sounds like a bribe of some type.

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