Florida lawmakers can push new gaming legislation in 2012

Slot machines could be coming to your county

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - The sound of slot machines is one step closer to arriving in all 67 counties in the state of Florida. Democratic Senator Maria Sachs is hailing an appeals court decision affirming a ruling that allows the legislature to authorize slot machines anywhere in the state.

"Today, the train is out of the station," she said Thursday.

Lawmakers will now have the authority to pass a bill to bring slot machines - maybe expanded gaming - in any of the counties in the state.

"We should have the possibility of top notch casino destination resorts right here within our state for those communities who want it," said Sachs.

At the start of the next legislative session in January, lawmakers can begin introducing their plans to bring slot machines to any county. It will be up to each individual county to make the final decision.

"I'd expect to have an up or down vote here and we'll have to see what the House chooses to do, but we are a gambling state." said Senate President Michael Haridopolos, a Republican.

Owners at Palm Beach Kennel Club in West Palm Beach said they would bring in slot machines as soon as they would be allowed. They believe the machines would keep more tax dollars in Palm Beach County.

"This story just affirms the fact that the legislature has the ability to allow slot machines based on referendums already passed," said Joe Rooney, the club's vice president. "If the opportunity presents itself for an expansion of gaming in the country, Palm Beach Kennel Club would be the ideal partner," said Rooney.

There is expected to be opposition to this court decision. Both sides are beginning to prepare for what could be one of the first legislative battles of the new year.

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