Thread: Slots at Ebro - would you play?
02-01-2012, 05:12 AM #1
Slots at Ebro - would you play?
For the first time a majority of voters here in the panhandle have approved what most consider a form of casino gambling. Voters in two counties passed referendums Tuesday night that will allow slot machines at two parimutuel facilities.
In Washington County, voters approved the slot machine referendum for Ebro Greyhound Park by a good margin: 57% yes to 43% no.
Employees and supporters were thrilled with the results. They gathered at the park Tuesday night to celebrate what they say will be a new chapter of jobs and prosperity for not just Ebro, but all of Washington County.
Tuesday night, the majority of the voters said they want Ebro Greyhound Park to be able to offer slot machines to their customers. Ebro's owners want to bring in up to two-thousand slot machines to be the centerpiece of a $300 million dollar resort and entertainment complex. Besides slots, it would offer luxury hotels, restaurants and a venue for concerts.
To sweeten the deal, they've also handed over binding letters to the Washington County Commission, the school board and the city of Ebro that would share revenues. Those three government bodies would get up to three-percent of the slot machine profits each year. Ebro estimates that would be a total of two-million dollars a year. The school board, commission and Ebro city officials were waiting for Tuesday night’s vote to act on those letters.
Now that they've secured victory, Ebro officials are certainly celebrating. But the real battle could just be getting underway. State officials say slot machines are currently legal outside of Indian casinos and Dade and Broward counties. They've said they will withhold permits from Ebro and Gretna.
For voters in Gadsden County, the decision was apparently a little easier. Voters there overwhelmingly approved the legalization of slot machines at the horse track in Gretna.
The margin of victory was nearly 2-to-1 with 63% voting yes and 37% no. The Gretna facility opened about two-and-a-half months ago. It features quarter-horse barrel racing barrel, the first track of its kind anywhere in the country.
Critics include two-quarter horse associations, who say barrel racing is not a legitimate form of horse racing. They're trying to sue the state for issuing the parimutuel permits. Other opponents say the owners only opened the track so they could offer a poker room. Now, they'll try to add slot machines as another gambling option.