News Service of Florida Release —
A state appeals court Wednesday said Miami-Dade County’s Calder Race Course can continue operating slot machines if it discontinues horse racing and offers jai-alai games.
A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal upheld a decision by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and rejected arguments by thoroughbred breeders and owners.
The case was rooted, in part, in a 2004 constitutional amendment that allowed pari-mutuel facilities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties to operate slot machines.
Calder, which has run horse races for decades, obtained a permit to operate slot machines. In 2018, Calder asked the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering about whether it could continue to operate slot machines if it shifted from offering horse races to jai alai.
The idea drew opposition from the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association and Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co., Inc.
Wednesday’s ruling said Calder obtained its slot-machine license as what is known as an “eligible facility” under a section of state law.
“Contrary to the appellants’ (the opponents’) arguments, nothing in the plain language of (the section of law) requires a facility to continue the same form of pari-mutuel wagering activity that originally qualified it for a slot machine license; nor does this statute tie an ‘eligible facility’ to the same type of racing or gaming as it had when the constitutional amendment was approved,” said the nine-page ruling, written by appeals-court Judge James Wolf and joined by judges Clay Roberts and M. Kemmerly Thomas.