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Beaten slots foes plan more battles

Possible strategies: a court battle or two, and asking voters later to reverse their narrow approval of South Florida slot machines.

Associated Press
Published November 6, 2004

TALLAHASSEE - Foes of slot machines at South Florida racetracks and jai alai frontons said Friday they'll keep up the fight, notwithstanding voters' passage of Amendment 4.

They pointed to a pending court challenge and the possibility of another lawsuit and said they may ask voters in a future election to change their minds, as foes of high-speed rail did successfully.

Supporters of expanding gambling were celebrating a victory after three defeats at the polls since 1978. The parimutuel industry worked five years to get voter approval for slot machines at tracks and jai alai frontons.

"Can you hear a champagne cork pop?" said Daniel Adkins, chairman of Floridians for a Level Playing Field and a vice president of Hollywood Greyhound Track. "I'm thrilled."

Their next step, as laid out in the amendment, is to get county commissions in Miami-Dade and Broward to approve putting the question to voters there. Support for the slot machines seems strong in both counties - Amendment 4 got a yes vote from nearly 68 percent of Broward and 57 percent of Miami-Dade voters Tuesday.

Opponents on Friday said they were considering their options.

State Rep. Randy Johnson, a Central Florida Republican who chairs No Casinos, said he wouldn't go to court unless he sees a reason. But he told reporters he is still trying to figure how 78,000 absentee votes from Broward that weren't counted until Thursday contained 74,000 votes for and only 4,000 against Amendment 4. That's an approval rate of 94 percent, far above the level of support recorded at polling places.

Until those votes were added to the total, Amendment 4 opponents had a razor-thin lead.

In a letter sent Friday, No Casinos, Grey2K USA and the Humane Society of the United States asked Broward Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes to "preserve all evidence" relating to the vote.

Grey2K already has a lawsuit before a Tallahassee judge challenging the petition drive that got Amendment 4 on the ballot. It alleges that thousands of signatures submitted were forged. Circuit Judge Nikki Ann Clark scheduled a trial for late January.

Carey Theil, president of the greyhound group, said Friday that lawsuit may be expanded or a new one filed to encompass complaints about the voting in Broward.

Both Theil and Johnson raised the possibility of asking voters to reconsider the issue.

"Floridians took pause on Amendment 4," Johnson said, pointing to the final results of 51 percent for, 49 percent against.

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