Democratic Rep. Dan Daley has authored a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis asking the Governor to veto new gaming legislation now on his desk.
The legislation contains provisions allowing casinos to operate cardrooms, slot machines and other games without also providing a live event for customers to wager on.
That process — known as decoupling — changes existing law. In his letter, Daley argues that changes “would be a nail in the coffin for the standardbred industry in Florida.” Standardbred racing involves a horse pulling a two-wheeled cart, where the driver sits. Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park is currently the last facility in Florida where those races are run.
Without a requirement to carry any sort of live event component, the Isle could choose to end standardbred racing and leave workers in the industry without a permanent home in Florida.
The park has allowed standardbred workers “to enjoy their passion, derive income, and belong to a close community that shares their unique way-of-life,” Daley says in his letter.
“As the sole operating standardbred track in Florida, decoupling will mean the elimination of all standardbred racing in this state and deal a devastating blow to not just to 5,000+ Floridians directly in the business, but also the estimated 5,000+ ancillary businesses who depend on the industry (tack shops, blacksmiths, feed stores, farmers).”
The DeSantis’ administration worked on the new Compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida ahead of this week’s Legislative Session. That makes it unlikely he’ll heed any calls to veto the legislation.
But Daley nevertheless made a personal appeal to the Governor ahead of his final decision.
“Governor, I am the son of a standardbred horseman. I grew up on the grounds of the Isle with this industry and the families that depend on it,” Daley wrote.
“These families are not political, they do not have campaign war chests to throw money at elected officials, and they do not hold much political clout in Tallahassee. While the standardbred industry may not be as glamorous as the bigger thoroughbred industry, these are some of the most dedicated, hardworking individuals you will ever meet.”
Daley has made a continued effort throughout this week and leading into the Special Session to fight the issue. Prior to the Special Session, Daley released a video highlighting standardbred racing, and noted the Isle made decades-high revenues last year. Still, proponents of the decoupling provisions argue those live events aren’t nearly as lucrative as other gaming operations, and are seeking to remove the mandate that live components remain in place.
Once the Special Session started, Daley lobbied fellow legislators to oppose decoupling provisions, but a proposal to preserve the industry failed. That leaves a veto as the last resort. The Governor has until Friday, June 4 to act on the gaming legislation.