Florida Poker Room Not Allowed to Operate Slot Machines

The state of Florida is quite complex when it comes to gambling. The Seminole Tribe has exclusive rights to offering particular gaming options, yet have been unable to reach a new compact with the state. Because of the fact that no compact exists, other gaming venues have been trying to offer games such as blackjack or slots. One card room attempted to install slot machines only to be told by the state government that they are not allowed to do so.

Jacksonville Poker Room Denied

The Bestbet Jacksonville poker room is a card room that offers players the ability to enjoy their favorite poker games. The facility was seeking to install slot machines to offer alongside poker games but their request has been denied by the state. Regulators have said that legal reasons are behind the refusal.

In a November referendum, Duval County residents voted in favor of adding the slot machines to the poker room after a lobbying effort by Bestbet was successful in finding the support needed to see the referendum pass. Bestbet spent more than $2 million in efforts to push their cause and the hope that voters would agree the facility needed to be able to offer slot games.

In February, the owners of Bestbet applied for a slots license and were planning on installing 2,000 machines at their property located on Monument Road. With the referendum passing in November, the poker room was named the only legal slots facility in a 50 mile radius of the property.

However, a statement was released last week by Jamie Shelton, the President of Bestbet, who stated that the venue will not be allowed to offer slot gaming and would be able to only if existing gambling laws of the state were to change.

Regulators Put Their Foot Down

Regulators of Florida have stated that slot machines are not authorized in the counties where approval was given due to the referendums not being authorized in the constitution. The owners of Bestbet now have three weeks in which to appeal the decision by the state. The company can choose to challenge the decision by filing for an administrative hearing. However, for now, it seems the poker room has no plans to challenge the decision.

The poker room did state that they hope the state will consider the fact that Duval County residents voted for slot machines to be allowed at the venue.

In other gambling news, the Legislature of Florida has to resolve two gambling bills that were conflicting of each other. The House and Senate had taken their own stance in regards to what should happen with the gambling industry of the state. Included in the bills were the stance of slot machine gaming.

The Senate wants to see a gambling expansion take place across the state with slot games added to the areas where voters gave approval, which would be in support of the Bestbet poker room. The House is not too fond of an expansion of gaming and wants to stop regulators from issuing slot licenses to gambling venues located in the state. Legislature now has to decide which way they wish to go.

For now, gambling is still a mixed bag in Florida and legislators are going to have to work together in order to come up with a solution as to what needs to take place for the future of the gambling industry. It will be interesting to see if the poker room decides to fight the decision or if they will wait to see which gambling expansion bill is chosen by Legislature.