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Justices weigh slots case
Opponents say the amendment is invalidated by fraud.
Published September 18, 2007
TALLAHASSEE - An amendment allowing slot machines in South Florida should stay in the state Constitution because voters approved it, even if forged petitions put the measure on the ballot, a lawyer for gambling interests argued Monday.
Attorneys for the state and anti-slots groups, though, told the Florida Supreme Court that permitting such a ballot box "cure" would reward fraud.
Opponents say the petitions have signatures of the dead, pets and voters who deny signing.
John Pelzer, a lawyer for groups that challenged the measure - Floridians Against Expanded Gambling, the Humane Society of the United States and GREY2K USA, a greyhound protection organization - said the amendment should be stricken if fraud is proven and sponsors can no longer meet a constitutional requirement of obtaining signatures from more than 610,000 registered voters to get on the ballot.
Pro-slots lawyer Bruce Rogow said the remedy for fraud would be to file criminal charges against those responsible.
If the Supreme Court agrees with Rogow and his client, Floridians for a Level Playing Field, the case is over. If the opponents prevail, a trial would determine if fraud occurred and how extensive it was.
The justices are also considering letting the case go to trial before making a decision.
Allows slot machines at horse and dog tracks and jai alai frontons in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, if approved by local voters. Broward voters have passed the proposal. It narrowly failed in Miami-Dade but will be on the ballot again in January.