Strip mall casino still running in Seminole Co. violates ordinance

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. —

Seminole County has been at the forefront of banning strip mall casinos, but WFTV found one that's still operating.

WFTV spoke with attorney David Shields three times on Tuesday to make sure.

He said the strip mall casino on State Road 436 in Seminole County is violating county ordinance.

A shootout inside this strip mall casino forced the county to ban existing casinos and new ones.

But when WFTV stepped inside Allied Veterans at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, it was packed. A security guard stormed out of a back room and asked WFTV to leave.

"Are people gambling?" WFTV's Daralene Jones asked.

"No, there's no gambling. No," replied the security guard.

But that's not what Cynthia Richardson told WFTV as she walked out after losing $8 on the slot machine.

"It is a gambling facility, not an Internet cafe. Yeah, you could get on the Internet, when it's up and working, but most of the time it's not up and working," she said.

Seminole County has been at the forefront of the fight against the strip mall casinos, which in six years has turned into a $1 billion industry with 1,000 locations in Florida.

Rep. Scott Plakon tried to get them shut down, but couldn't get his bill through the Senate.

"How did these businesses get so much power in our state?" Jones asked.

"Well, there's a lot of money involved," said Plakon.

WFTV's news partners at the Palm Beach Post found the industry has poured more than $700,000 into political campaigns leading up to the August primary.

Compare that to opponents of the industry, like Disney and Universal, which have spent about $2.3 million.

"There's so much money involved that's giving them an important voice, significant voice in the political process," said Plakon.

Seminole County officials said they are aware this place is still operating and they're being cited $300 a day, plus $300 per machine.

They're waiting for a judge to schedule a hearing in the case.