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Old 04-15-2010, 02:38 PM   #1
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Default Slots and thoroughbreds for Hialeah Park?
from the Miami Herald:


Odds are looking good for Hialeah Park to add more glamorous thoroughbred horse races and lucrative slot machines as a major state gambling agreement moves forward.

Famed for its pink flamingos first imported from Cuba, the storied Hialeah Park reopened last year with quarter-horse racing. The historic track had not seen races since 2001.

Gov. Charlie Crist and lawmakers announced last week a $1 billion gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe. The deal quickly gained approval from the tribal council and cleared a House panel in the Florida Legislature. The Senate is expected to vote on a bill ratifying the compact this week.

Rep. Esteban Bovo said that once lawmakers ratify the agreement, Hialeah will be able to operate slot machines by the beginning of next year.

``What that translates to for our city is jobs,'' Bovo said. The Hialeah Republican once worked at the park.

The long-sought gambling deal would allow key changes at the historic Hialeah Park. Those changes include: a slot machine parlor with 2,000 machines; poker rooms; simulcasting; and the option to add thoroughbred racing, Bovo said.

Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina commended the progress on the compact, but he noted that the city is still pursuing other legislative strategies to ensure thoroughbred racing returns to Hialeah Park soon.

``You can't put all your eggs in one basket,'' Robaina said.

``We weren't sure what was going to happen this session with the compact. We couldn't put all of our hope on the compact,'' he added.

Hialeah Park's owner declined to comment on the gambling compact.

The lofty development plans for the historic track also include the addition of a hotel, restaurants, movie theater, and possibly a bowling alley.

The overall development could generate more than 8,000 permanent jobs and 3,000 temporary jobs.

``If we can get Hialeah racing, we've created jobs, we've created our own version of a stimulus package,'' said Hialeah Rep. Eddy Gonzalez.
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