Florida Poker Rooms No Longer Need to Greyhound Racing to Exist

It's official: Florida poker rooms can now separate themselves from greyhound races. They have to, actually. Florida voters approved an amendment that sets an end date for the state's 100-year-old greyhound racing industry. Tracks have three years to cease racing operations with the option to stop sooner.

Called “decoupling” in Florida, the battle to allow the poker rooms to exist without having to run seasonal greyhound races has been dragging on for at least 12 years. On Tuesday, 69 percent of state voters, or 5.3 million Floridians, voted to put an end to the antiquated sport once and for all.

For the past several years, poker has been the breadwinner for businesses like Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Racing and Poker. Due to convoluted state laws coupling poker with races, the poker rooms were only allowed to operate if the business ran a certain number of races per year. This was despite the lack of race fans and the fact that the races were a financial drain on the business.

While the amendment to end greyhound racing is a major victory for poker rooms, another amendment could make any future progress for poker rooms much more complicated. State voters passed amendment 3 on Tuesday, which gives voters the e3xclusive right to decide future changes to state gambling laws.

Amendment 3 passed by a wide margin with 71 percent approval among voters. Decisions about gambling laws that were previously left up to the state Legislature must now be decided by statewide ballot. It requires companies to collect petition signatures and stage expensive campaigns to expand.

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