Since Historic City News first reported last week about the County Attorney’s office placing a slot machine ordinance on today’s agenda of the St Johns County Commission, the phones, e-mail, facebook, and twitter feed have been buzzing.
Although the discussion on the item was scheduled for the next to the last item of the day, the item was removed from the agenda in the first item of business when commissioners voted to pull it from the agenda all together.
Best Bet, the operating company for the three pari-mutuel dog tracks, Jacksonville Kennel Club, Orange Park Kennel Club, and the former St Johns Greyhound Park in Bayard, which closed in 2012, was hoping the commission would allow the question of slot machine gaming to be added to the November ballot.
If they could have accomplished their mission today, although it would have been tight, they could have theoretically gotten all of the requirements met by November.
Then, had the voters allowed it to pass, Best Bet could have applied for a slot machine license to add to their current poker room and off-track betting activities which included simulcast greyhound, Jai alai, and horse racing. The broad combination of gaming activities would have justified the cost to reactivate the St Johns County License even though they would build a new facility on I-95, just north of the SR-207 intersection.
“This is dead,” Commission Chair Jeb Smith said. “It will not be resurrected within this year.”
A still unsettled Florida Supreme Court case might have nixed the entire deal anyway, when it determines whether or not slot licenses are allowed outside Dade and Broward counties.
County attorney Patrick McCormack advised commissioners if they were to pull the item from the agenda, it would not come up before the board again in 2016, and, thus, not be included on November’s general election ballot for consideration.
Smith said he would have never agreed to this activity.