Melbourne Greyhound Park put up a big "Thank You" sign for voters on Wednesday. It is intended tobe an appreciative gesture for their overwhelming approval of the slot machinereferendum in Brevard County.
"We'replanning on building a major entertainment facility" said Melbourne Greyhound Parkpresident Patrick Biddix, who is moving forward with plans to build a brand new, $50million entertainment and gaming facility on 40 acres of vacant landoff Eau Gallie Road. Plans call for 2,000 slot machines, a newpoker room and theater and upscale dining.
"Wecould be quite a venue. We could very easily have a facility very similar tothe hard rock in Tampa."
That'sa big-time bet. The Hard Rock Casino in Tampa became the sixth largest casinoin the world, thanks to an exclusive gaming agreement preventing similarcasinos anywhere else in the state. But that agreement is set to expire inJanuary of 2015.
"It'dtake me that long to get our building designed, permitted and built, and readyto be open," said Biddix. "It could work out very well for all of us."
That includes city and county governments, which the park gives millions of dollarsof revenue to each year, voluntarily. Still, there's one more hurdle for the highlyregulated and taxed business, which is to acquire a state license for those slot machines.
"Ithink that's less of a daunting task than it was going after the referendum,"said Biddix.
He is relying on a recent Florida Supreme Court decision regarding gaming, which allowsa slot machine license for pari-mutuel betting with county and voter approval.
Thepark's next move is to apply for that permit ahead of the next legislativesession. They will do so with the state's Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. Ifit's not approved by state leaders, Melbourne Greyhound Park will be ready totake the issue to court to get that permit.
Floridastate legislators are also expected to take another long, hard look at gaming inthe coming months. The Florida House on Wednesday announced the creationof the Select Committee on Gaming, which will study whether toallow licenses for the five counties in Florida that approved gaming.