Way back when, voters in some communities approved local pari-mutuel facilities, which provided seasonal betting on horse races, greyhound races, and Jai Alai. Then, in 1986, Florida voters approved the Florida Lottery – described as a once-a-week drawing to help education. We all know how that promise turned out.
Finally, in 2004, by the narrowest of margins, voters approved slot machines at Dade and Broward pari-mutuel facilities. They promised taxpayers $500 million a year for education. The reality? Less than a quarter of that figure.
Pari-mutuels lobbied for more gambling – so the legislature gave them simulcast betting. Cut their taxes, expanded their seasons. The once-a-week lottery? There are now 35 different scratch-off games. Powerball, Lotto, Mega Money, Fantasy 5, Play 3, Lucky Lines, Lucky 7 Raffle, and Advanced Play. Then Congress got into the act. In the late 1980s, they passed the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which says that if a form of gambling is legal in a state, the tribes must be allowed to have it – and tribes can have electronic versions too.
Then the legislature legalized private poker betting. So the tribes got poker and video poker. The pari-mutuels complained to the legislature that they couldn’t compete with tribal poker, so the legislature gave pari-mutuels poker too.
And when voters approved slot machines for Dade and Broward County… you guessed it, the tribes got slots and other casino games too.