Brevard Co. voters back slot referendum

Updated:

Loading

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - Brevard County voters made a major decision to bring the first real slot machines to Florida's Space Coast.

Some 152,000 voters backed the referendum to allow the Melbourne Greyhound Park to operate slot machines.

With dog racing falling off in popularity among gamblers, the track is trying to broaden its customer base.

General Manager Pat Biddix said he never imagined the referendum would win with more than a 14-point margin.

"The last time there was a statewide referendum it failed here in Brevard by about 3 percent. Our polling said it would be favorable by about 3-5 percent," said Biddix.

Five other counties had similar referendums to add slot machines at race tracks in other parts of Florida.

Supporters in Brevard County touted the hundreds of jobs the new multimillion dollar entertainment complex would bring to the area in addition to tax revenue for the city, the county and the state, but Tuesday's vote didn't seal the deal.

The track still must apply for a permit from the state before construction can begin.

"We'll go up to Tallahassee this legislative session and hope to come back before the end of this legislative session with a permit," said Biddix.

Track operators said if everything stays on schedule, they hope to see quarters going into slots as early as July of 2015.