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Florida Race Wagering

Pari-mutuel wagering was first authorized by the Florida Legislature in 1931. Currently, authorized pari-mutuel events include thoroughbred racing, quarter-horse racing, harness racing, greyhound racing and jai alai. The Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering (DPMW) within the Department of Business & Professional Regulation, under Florida's Executive Branch, regulates the pari-mutuel, card room and slot machine gaming industries.

There are more than 20 pari-mutuel facilities located throughout Florida. Florida was the first state to run jai-alai events, with the first fronton built in 1926, and is the only state currently that operates live jai-alai games.

Pari-mutuel handle in Florida has been in decline for the last decade. Florida statute defines handle as the cumulative contributions to pari-mutuel pools, and groups handle into four categories: live ontrack – handle from live races or games at a track or fronton; simulcast – handle from races or games from out-of-state broadcast to a Florida track or fronton; intertrack – handle from a host Florida track or fronton broadcasting live races or games to other Florida tracks or frontons; and intertrack simulcast – handle from rebroadcast simulcast signals received by a Florida track or fronton to other Florida tracks or frontons.

In 1996, Florida Statutes Chapter 550, referred to as the Florida Pari-Mutuel Wagering Act, was amended by the Legislature. Substantive changes were authorization for card rooms at licensed pari-mutuel facilities; authorization for full-card simulcasting by thoroughbred and certain greyhound license holders; expanded authorization for intertrack wagering by certain license holders; tax relief for greyhound, jai-alai and thoroughbred licensees; and minimum and additional purse payments by greyhound license holders.
In March 2008, a bill to expand dog racing was introduced and unanimously approved by the House Jobs and Entrepreneurial Council. The bill could have opened the door for offtrack betting in 10 locations in Florida if passed, but it died in May 2008.

In October 2009, Flagler Dog Track and Magic City Casino began slot operations and Calder/Tropical reopened its card room. On 28 November 2009, Hialeah Park began quarter-horse racing. In January 2010, Calder Casino & Race Course began slot operations and the Pensacola Greyhound Track opened its card room.

In 2010, there were significant changes to the Florida Statutes. Quarter-horse facilities could substitute up to 50% of their races with thoroughbred horses, the minimum performances required each meet were reduced from 40 to 20, and they no longer needed written approval from sites in their market area to conduct simulcast and intertrack wagering; card room facilities were permitted to conduct poker with no betting limits, allowed longer operating hours, and could offer gaming for 18 hours during the week and 24 hours on the weekend; and the slot tax rate was reduced from 5% to 35% of slot machine revenue, and the annual slot license fee was reduced in 2010 to $2.5 million and to $2 million starting in 2011.

On 19 August 2010, the DPMW signed a final order for Investment Corporation of Palm Beach to convert its inactive jai-alai permit to a greyhound permit. It operated as License Acquisitions, LLC at Palm Beach Kennel Club from 1 October 2010 until 31 December 2010, becoming a dual-permit site.

On 22 December 2010, Hialeah obtained a license to operate slots.
On 1 January 2011, Daytona Beach Kennel Club converted its inactive Volusia Jai Alai permit to a greyhound permit and began West Volusia Racing, Inc., creating another dual-permit facility on 2 April 2011.

On 12 May 2011, Miami Jai Alai obtained a license to operate slots.
Effective 11 September 2011, the DPMW discontinued issuing one-year pari-mutuel and card room occupational licenses, and began issuing three-year licenses for a reduced fee.

In 2011, Gretna Racing began operation of its first quarter-horse meet and opened a card room on December 1.

On 23 January 2012, Miami Jai Alai opened its slot facility and reopened its card room. The card room was closed at the end of March 2011 until the slots facility was completed. Jefferson County Kennel Club closed its card room at the end of January 2012.

On 1 March, 2012, Jacksonville Kennel Club began operating BestBet, the largest card room in Florida.

In June 2015, the 1st District Court of Appeal issued a 2-1 ruling that could expand the ability of pari-mutuels to have slot machines in counties where voters approved the activity. Florida state gaming regulators had rejected Gretna Racing's request to have slot machines in 2013, despite voter approval a year earlier.

In January 2017, State Representative Jason Brodeur filed a bill that would classify fantasy contests as games of skill, as opposed to games of chance.

Several racetracks, including the Palm Beach Kennel Club, were slated to be given the opportunity to have slot machines and discontinue greyhound racing under a gambling compact negotiated by Gov. Rick Scott and the Seminole Tribe.

In July 2017, Magic City Casino in Miami became the first property to receive permission to drop dog racing in favor of jai alai matches, but keep their slot machines and card games.

In November 2018, voters approved a statewide referendum to ban live racing beginning January 1, 2021. Big Easy Casino and Magic City Casino ended live racing in 2019. The 2018 constitutional amendment authorized existing racinos in Miami-Dade or Broward counties to continue to offer gaming without live greyhound racing.

Florida Race Wagering Properties

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