Horseslots Parlay Plan A Long Shot At Miami International Airport
Written by Risa Polansky on November 5, 2009
By Risa Polansky
A gambit to install slots at Miami International Airport is a long shot, an assistant county attorney says.
Miami-Dade commissioners have spent hours since June discussing the idea.
Aviation officials this summer compiled a lengthy state application for the quarter-horse racing permit that would be the first step to gaming at the airport, going so far as to map an imaginary racetrack and propose a hypothetical schedule for races they never intend to hold on site, all at the state’s request.
And local lawmakers are dealing now with area pari-mutuels who say even the prospect of airport slots is bad for their own slots business.
All for a venture a county attorney says is a gamble he wouldn’t bet on.
"It’s a long shot for all the pieces to fall into place that would need to fall into place," Assistant County Attorney Jess McCarty told commissioners Tuesday after Carlos Gimenez questioned the likelihood of slots approval.
It’s more likely than not it won’t work out, Mr. McCarty said.
And if you had to bet on it? Commissioner Gimenez asked.
"I would not," Mr. McCarty said.
Commissioner Sally Heyman, a former state legislator, mentioned also that she’s heard the state is not inclined to allow gaming outside of pari-mutuel facilities.
Still, despite tough odds, commissioners voted to ratify the quarter-horse racing permit to at least keep the slots option open.
Many stressed the importance of generating revenue for the airport to keep airlines’ costs down — a major factor in staying competitive.
Annual aviation debt and operating costs are expected to increase by $500 million beginning in 2015.
Officials are brainstorming what they call "out of the box" ways to generate revenue to cover the gap, including slots at Miami International.