City Council expected to vote Tuesday on legalizing slot machines

Slot machines would only be allowed at Best Bet facility


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to put legalizing slot machines on the November ballot for voters to decide. The slot machines would only be allowed at the Best Bet facility on Monument Road, across from the Regency Mall.

“One company, one license, one county,” spokesperson for Best Bet, Susie Wiles said. “And there won’t be another facility for 50 miles. That’s the way the law was written. So again, the legislature in their wisdom said, 'let’s let the voters closest to home decide.'”

News4Jax asked Wiles why Best Bet should be allowed to operate slot machines while police have been shutting down internet cafes over the past few years all over Jacksonville. Many of those facilities operate games that are similar to slot machines. 

“It’s a very different form of entertainment,” Wiles said. “And the state of Florida has granted licenses over the last several decades to a very few industries, corporate citizens in the state. Best Bet is one of those.”

Even if the city council votes to put this on the ballot, and the voters approve it, it will still have to pass the state Supreme Court. The court right now is considering a case that will determine whether voters in counties or cities like Jacksonville can overrule state gambling laws and approve slot machines in their own community. That decision will impact whatever Jacksonville decides to do.

News4Jax also talked to Joyce Morgan, the city councilwoman for Best Bet’s area. She’s supported the measure and said it would bring jobs to the Regency area that has struggled in recent years. 

“They’re going to be able to add more jobs, and these jobs are going to be jobs that pay upwards of $30-$40,000, and that immediately infuses this Arlington economy,” Morgan said. 

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