BestBet pushes to make slot machines legal in St. Johns County

Meanwhile, Jax City Council debates whether issue will be put on November ballot

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – As the Jacksonville City Council debates whether slot machines should be legalized, a group is pushing to legalize gambling in St. Johns County. 

RELATED: Should slot machines be legalized in Jacksonville?

JAX Greyhound Racing, also known as BestBet, is in the early stages of trying to convince St. Johns County commissioners to hold a referendum, allowing voters to decide yes or no on slot machines.

News4Jax spoke with St. Johns County voters, who had mixed opinions on legalizing slot machines.

"Maybe the risk of bringing some crime to the area, that would be my first thoughts," Candi Smith said. 

On the other side of the debate, Cliff Davis said, "The funds that come from the revenue that's generated from that may be good for the county."

Susie Wiles, BestBet spokesperson, said it's too early to give details, but approving slot slot machines would have a significant economic impact. She said St. Johns County residents could see more tax dollars and new jobs that pay $50,000 a year on average.

"All day long, we recruit companies to Jacksonville and St. Augustine, St. Johns County, who don't have nearly the impact that this will have. These are well-paying jobs and lots of them," Wiles said.

BestBet hopes to see a similar referendum before Duval County voters in November. 

The Jacksonville City Council said Thursday night that they plan to decide at the end of the month whether the issue will be up for a vote on the November ballot and will vote on it on June 28.

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