Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Updated: 7:55 p.m. Tuesday, March 27, 2012; Posted: 7:51 p.m. Tuesday, March 27, 2012
A Boca Raton woman has filed a lawsuit asking a judge to take a slot machine referendum off the November ballot in Palm Beach County because she believes it “may be nothing more than a straw poll.”
County commissioners voted in December to place the referendum on the ballot in the hopes that a favorable vote would lead to the Palm Beach County Kennel Club being able to offer slot machine gambling.
But Attorney General Pam Bondi wrote a non-binding opinion in January saying that pari-mutuels outside Broward and Miami-Dade counties, where voters approved slot machines years ago, are not allowed to have the more lucrative slots without changes to the state constitution or permission from the Legislature. Citing Bondi’s opinion, Gov. Rick Scott and the Department of Business of Professional Regulation said they will not grant permits for slot machines at pari-mutuels outside Broward or Miami-Dade.
Bondi’s and DPR’s actions were in response to an effort by Creek Entertainment Gretna to get a slots permit for it barrel-racing track and poker room in Gadsden County, where voters approved slots in January.
In the Palm Beach County lawsuit, Sandra Medlicott alleges that the referendum would mislead county voters by giving them the impression that, if the referendum passes, the Palm Beach Kennel Club would be able to get slots. But “the proposed referendum may be nothing more than a straw poll that cannot authorize slot machine gaming” at pari-mutuels in the county, Fort Lauderdale attorney D. David Keller wrote in the lawsuit filed March 20 against the county commission and Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher.
Keller would not elaborate abut why Medlicott filed the lawsuit. “The lawsuit speaks for itself. I have a policy of not commenting on pending lawsuits. I do my talking in court,” he said.
Commissioner Burt Aaronson, who pushed the county to put the referendum on the ballot, said he hadn’t seen the lawsuit and could not comment.
The county put the referendum on the ballot after an 2011 appellate court ruling involving Hialeah Park racetrack found that the legislature has the authority to allow slot machines at pari-mutuels without a constitutional amendment, as was required for Broward and Miami-Dade counties. That decision is on appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, which has not decided whether to take it.
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Jennifer Sorentrue contributed to this story.