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1st District Court of Appeal to hear oral arguments in Gretna pari-mutuels case

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The Tallahassee-based 1st District Court of Appeals will hear arguments Wednesday afternoon regarding whether or not the Gadsden County pari-mutuel facility Gretna Gaming should be issued a state license to operate new slot machines.

More than 62 percent of voters there approved a county-wide referendum in 2012 that would allow slots at the Gretna quarter horse racing facility well-known to motorists who traverse I-10 to Tallahassee from the greater western Panhandle.

Blocking its implementation is an opinion issued by the office of Attorney General Pam Bondi, who ruled that the referendum contradicts state law.

In a January 2012 letter, Bondi said the referendum was “non-binding,” because the operative department that would implement the slots  “is not authorized to issue a slot machine license to a pari-mutuel facility in a county which … holds a countywide referendum to approve such machines, absent a statutory or constitutional provision.”

The plaintiffs in tomorrow’s hearing, specifically Gretna Creek Entertainment, will seek to overturn that decision.

State Rep. Alan Williams, Gretna Mayor James Payne and Gadsden Commissioner Brenda Holt, among other local stakeholders, will be on hand to address members of the press following the proceedings.

Arguments are expected to be made before the 1st DCA on Drayton St. in Tallahassee at 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at [email protected]m.

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