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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Casino rush begins -- Is Key West next?



The talk of bringing Las Vegas-style casinos to South Florida has anybody with a dormant gambling permit seeing dollar signs. There are 53 active and non-active permits outstanding throughout Florida now.

Here's one example of such ambitions for Key West, where races were last in operation in 1991, from the Keynoter. Read full story here.

It still seems like a long shot at best, but the owner of the only pari-mutuel gambling permit in the Florida Keys is looking to Key West rather than Marathon to put it to use.

New Rochelle, N.Y., resident John Van Lindt told the Keynoter that he’d like to meet with Key West officials about the possibility of an off-track betting operation there.

Van Lindt was clear any talks would be preliminary and that he’s not thoroughly explored the idea of a Key West operation.

"I’m at a real disadvantage because I’m so far away," he said.

"He wanted to come and speak with me, but I told him until after the election I won’t have time," Key West Mayor Craig Cates said. "I never have been [in favor of casino gambling]. I always said we can’t be everything to everybody."

Monroe County Commissioner George Neugent floated preliminary plans for casino gambling at Florida Keys Marathon Airport at a late June Marathon City Council meeting. His hope was that it would generate funding for county infrastructure projects, in particular wastewater and stormwater efforts.

"He’s more interested in Key West, because of the population, than Marathon. But unless something happens legislatively, the casino situation just can’t happen," Neugent said.

[Last modified: Monday, October 3, 2011 11:54am]


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