Slot machines are a step closer to making their way to Palm Beach County

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - Voters in Palm Beach County are one step closer to having their say on whether slot machines should be allowed at the Palm Beach Kennel Club.

Tuesday Palm Beach County Commissioners gave preliminary approval to take the debate to the polls next November.

The sound of money is what rings in the ears of many commissioners when talking about the slot machine debate, but for others, like former professional blackjack player George Williams, bringing the machines would be trouble.

"It's an illusion of what it does to the town," Williams said. "It's really not a redistribution of wealth. It's an elimination of wealth."

Williams said in his time of gambling, and being a consultant for those in the gambling industry, he's seen the losers in the situation.

"It's a pretty grim picture and right now Florida is under siege in all aspects of the gaming industry both in Tallahassee and down here," Williams said. "It's like a tidal wave."

Commissioners say it will bring a big wave of money in tourism dollars to compete with Broward and Miami-Dade County.

"We don't want to be in a position where we're not even asking the question, ‘Do we need to do this for our economic vitality to be able to be competitive with regard to tourism,? ' " Commission Chair Shelley Vana said.

But some tourists like Gary Tardiff from Virginia say if voters buy into slot machines, it will change their vacation spot.

"Maybe it would bring income, but I don't know that we want that sort of income," Tardiff said. "If it's allowed in one area is it then that a few years down the road that we can put it over here and it expands."

He said if it expanded a lot, down the line he may not want to come to visit the area any more.

According to state law, only places that have conducted live racing or games during the last two calendar years before THE effective date of the amendment can have slot machines.
 
This law would mean that only places like the current Palm Beach Kennel Club could put in the machines.

"I would love it," Elaine Watson-Straker said. "The Kennel Club. A restaurant nearby.  It would be fun."

A public hearing will be held on December 20th before commissioners officially vote to put the slot question to voters.

 

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