Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' Association, Inc., d/b/a Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association, Appellant,
Calder Race Course, Inc., and Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, Appellees. Ocala Breeders' Sales Co., Inc., Appellant,
Calder Race Course, Inc., Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, and Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' Association, Inc., d/b/a Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association, Appellees.
final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion
under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.
appeal from the Department of Business and Professional
Regulation, Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. Robert
appeals challenge a Final Order Granting a Declaratory
Statement requested by Calder Race Course Inc. (Calder) and
issued by The Florida Department of Business and Professional
Regulation, Division of Pari-Mutual Wagering (Division). The
declaratory statement determined in part that pursuant to
section 551.102(4), Florida Statutes, Calder could
discontinue the operation of thoroughbred races and instead
present a full schedule of live jai alai performances in
order to maintain its "eligible facility" status to
continue to conduct slot machine operations. The declaratory
statement also determined that Calder was not required to
conduct summer jai alai performances in the state fiscal year
proceeding its operation of slot machines. We affirm as to
all issues and specifically address one of appellants'
challenges. We find the Division's interpretations of the
constitutional amendment and statutes which would allow
Calder to present jai alai games in order to continue to
conduct slot machine operations are the most reasonable.
2004, Florida voters approved a new constitutional provision
authorizing Miami-Dade and Broward Counties to hold
countywide referenda on whether to authorize slot machines
within existing licensed pari-mutuel facilities which had
conducted live racing or games in that county during 2002 and
2003. See art. X, § 23, Fla. Const.
(2018). On November 2, 2004, Florida
voters approved the "Slots Amendment." Slot
machines were approved in Broward County in 2004 and in
Miami-Dade County in 2008.
the Florida Legislature enacted chapter 551, Florida
Statutes, entitled "Slot Machines, " which governs
the operation of slot machines at eligible facilities. A
license to conduct slot machine gaming is tied to a
pari-mutuel wagering permit-holder. See §
551.104(3), Fla. Stat. (2018).
551.102(4) defines the term "eligible facility" for
obtaining a slots permit as:
Any licensed pari-mutuel facility located in Miami-Dade
County or Broward County existing at the time of adoption of
s. 23, Art. X of the State Constitution that has conducted
live racing or games during calendar years 2002 and 2003 may
possess slot machines and conduct slot machine gaming at the
location where the pari-mutuel permit-holder is authorized to
conduct pari-mutuel wagering activities pursuant to such
permit-holder's valid pari-mutuel permit provided that a
majority of voters in a countywide referendum have approved
slot machines at such facility in the respective county.
Race Course, Inc., located in Miami-Dade County, has been a
pari-mutuel permit holder for thoroughbred horse racing at
its facility since 1971. As a pari-mutuel permit holder which
conducted live racing during 2002 and 2003, Calder qualified
for and obtained a permit authorizing it to have slot machine
gaming at its pari-mutuel facility. Calder recently obtained
a summer jai alai permit, and it intends to discontinue
thoroughbred racing and begin conducting jai alai games if it
continues to qualify for a slot machine permit after the
31, 2018, Calder Race Course petitioned the Florida
Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division
of Pari-Mutuel Wagering (Division), for a Declaratory
Statement in regard to two questions related to its intent to
terminate thoroughbred racing, and to clarify whether the
underlying basis for its slot machine permit could be its jai
alai permit, rather than its thoroughbred horse racing
Question 1: Whether, pursuant to section 551.102(4), Calder
may discontinue the operation of thoroughbred races and
instead operate a full schedule of live jai alai performances
in order to maintain its 'eligible facility' status
to continue to conduct slot machine operations?
Question 2: If the answer to question 1 is 'yes, '
and Calder operates jai alai performances in lieu of
thoroughbred races, whether Calder is required to conduct
summer jai alai performances in the state fiscal year
preceding its operation of slot machines as a summer jai alai
licensee? Question 1 was answered in the affirmative;
Question 2 was answered in the negative.
issues in this case involve interpretation of the statutes
under chapters 550 and 551, Florida Statutes. The de novo
standard applies to this ...