Poker room bestbet Jacksonville will not be able to install slot machines at its premises as its request was denied by the state of Florida, local media reported. Regulators cited legal reasons for the refusal.
Residents of Duval County voted in favor of the addition of gaming machines at the facility in a November referendum. The positive result represented a successful lobbying effort that reportedly cost bestbet more than $2 million. Bestbet owners applied last month for the necessary slots license that would allow them to install 2,000 machines at the Monument Road-located property. The November county referendum set up the Jacksonville poker room as the only legal slots facility within a 50-mile radius.
The state informed earlier this week bestbet President Jamie Shelton that the gambling venue would not be allowed to provide this type of offering and that only a change in existing gambling laws could make that possible.
According to Florida regulators, slots could not be authorized in counties where these had been approved in a countywide referendum, unless said referendum had been authorized in the Constitution.
Bestbet owners now have three weeks to appeal the state’s decision. They can also challenge said decision by filing for an administrative hearing. A spokesperson for the poker room’s parent company told local media that no further actions would be taken for now. Yet, the poker and racing facility expressed hopes that the state would take into account the fact that the majority of Duval County residents had voted in favor of the addition of slot machines.
Meanwhile, the Florida Legislature has ended up with two conflicting gambling bills after the House and the Senate had taken their own stance on the future of the state’s gambling industry. Among other clashing issues, the two legislations seem to have taken separate approaches to slot machines.
In a nutshell, the Senate calls for massive gambling expansion across the state, including the addition of slot machines at properties where this has been approved by county voters. The House is less keen on gambling expansion and bars regulators from issuing new slot licenses for gambling venues across Florida. It is yet to be seen which of the two proposals will be favored by the Legislature.