PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - The political fight over whether slot machines should be allowed in Palm Beach County is in the home stretch. A ballot question will be answered by voters on Tuesday. Slot machines, though, are already in the county ready for use.
This is one of the things that will help us," said Mary Brandenburg, who is co-chair for the Coalition for Jobs. The group is pushing for voters to vote 'yes' on a ballot question aiming to allow slots at licensed pari-mutuel facilities. The only place in the county that fits that bill is the Palm Beach Kennel Club.
"This slot referendum that will bring more jobs to Palm Beach County," said Brandenburg. Supporters say allowing slot machines at that location could double the $9 million in tax revenue already provided by the kennel club each year; an estimated $1.8 million of which would go to the county.
Detractors say slots can lead to gambling addiction and are not worth the risk. "If you don't approve of gambling, you don't need to come," said Brandenburg.
Enter Jonathan Greene. "We have every game that you would have in Vegas." Green's renovated 160-foot-long vessel - a floating casino - will make its maiden voyage out of the Port of Palm Beach next week. Aside from the Black Jack, Craps and Roulette tables, the Black Diamond Casino Cruises vessel is also equipped with 250 new slot machines.
In international waters on two daily public cruises, the slot machines are already a go. Even with the potential for slot machines coming to Palm Beach County on land, Greene does not believe that will impact his business - at least not for years.
"How it will help revenues for the state? I question that," he said. "But they've been asking for this for years and years and years."
Greene says, if approved, the kennel club slots will not directly compete with his full casino on the water. His machines will be up and running in just days and he believes that Palm Beach County is ready to play.
"I think we're going to be around a while," he said.
Along the street outside the Palm Beach Kennel Club are a number of political signs supporting a 'yes' vote on that ballot question. That decision, of course, is up to the voters.