Slots at dog track in Bonita still face hurdles
BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. - Lee County voters went to the polls and gave the big thumbs up to slot machines at the Naples-Ft. Myers Greyhound Track.
"I think to be in that 60% range of approval. I think that's a really good sign that the public is genuinely in favor for it," said Bonita Springs Mayor Ben Nelson.
But even through voters want slots, the legislator must pass a law to allow them in Lee County.
"Right now the Seminole compact gives them exclusivity to slot machines through the year 2030," said State Rep. Matt Caldwell.
Under an agreement struck back in 2010, the Seminole Tribe pays the State of Florida $233-million a year for exclusive rights to slots – money that goes into the state coffers.
Granting anyone else permission to have slots would be a violation of that agreement and the Seminoles would no longer have to pay the state.
Bonita Springs Mayor Ben Nelson says he is well aware of the uphill battle to get lawmakers to act in their favor.
"We're just getting together with or lobbyist. We're getting together with the Havernick family (track owners) and we're going to discuss that (and) figure out the best way to approach that."
Fox 4 reached out to the Seminoles to find out if they plan to ask the legislator to enforce the exclusivity agreement, but was told they had no official statement at this time.
State Rep. Caldwell says the process to figure out whether or not to approve slots could take two years.
"We are going to have a select committee in the house and might be a companion to the senate on the gaming issue broadly and we'll be looking at all the different kinds of gaming that goes on the in the state"