This Tuesday, November 1, 2011, the Gadsden County Commission will consider a request by Gretna Racing, LLC to authorize a countywide referendum on allowing slot machines at the Creek Entertainment Gretna facility in Gretna, a small North Florida town with a population of less than 2,000.
To view the request, click here.
“With its recent and questionable license award from the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, Gretna has deviously positioned its minimal live racing dates over a two-month span to meet the State’s two-year bare minimum requirements to operate slot machines, while insisting it will hold ‘pari-mutuel barrel racing’ so as to not have the expense and, of course, the resultant economic development created by conducting legitimate horse racing,” explained Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Executive Director Kent Stirling.
Shortly after its approval of the Gretna license, the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering was cited by the Florida Auditor General in an October 26, 2011 report for faulty slot machine and cardroom licensing procedures, resulting in lost revenue to the State.
To view the report, click here.
If the Commission allows it, the referendum would be placed on the January 31, 2012 Republican Presidential Preference Ballot. Most of Gretna’s residents are registered Democrats and 85 percent are African-American, with a median income of $27,000 per year.
Should the referendum ultimately be approved by what will likely be a single digit turnout of Republican voters, it will make Gadsden County the third in Florida to approve Las Vegas-style slot machines.
“The people of Gretna are being duped. The jobs that legitimate horse racing operations bring are well known to far and away exceed the economic vortex that this ill-begotten scheme would create.” Stirling explained. “The proposal was wisely thrown out by Jefferson County in 2008.”
Gretna Racing, clearly confident in its ability to secure the vote, has already published “Gretna Casino” Web sites, which indicate it is expecting a clear path to open its casino later in 2012, while bypassing federal and state law, as well as bona fide pari-mutuel regulation. On its site, Gretna Casino indicates that it will seek to become a North Florida “gambling getaway.”
James Dorris, CEO of PCI Gaming Authority, a company owned by the Alabama Poarch Creek Indians, will make the request on behalf of his partners, which include Gulfstream Park lobbyist Marc Dunbar and former Gulfstream Park attorney, David Romanik, who briefly served as track CEO.
“The Mssrs. Romanik and Dunbar have been peddling the same set of construction blueprints for years,” Stirling recalls.