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A timeline of gambling in Florida

1924 Aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss and James Bright establish Hialeah and open Hialeah Park, determined to dedicate the town to horse racing and jai alai, even though they are not legal in Florida.

1926 Church groups prevail and shut down Hialeah's illegal racing, some attributing the destructive hurricane of that year to God's retribution on the gambling scene.

1930 Two men arrested for assassination attempt against Gov. Doyle E. Carlton, allegedly for his opposition to gambling.

1931 Horse and dog racing is legalized by a single vote in the state Senate and after overriding the veto of Gov. Doyle E. Carlton, who reportedly was offered $100,000 to sign the bill. State Racing Commission established.

1935 Jai alai and slot machines are legalized.

1937 State repeals the slot machines, known as "one-armed bandits."

1940 Cockfighting tourneys flourish in Central Florida.

1948 Possession of a federal gambling tax stamp becomes illegal.

1950 U.S. Sen. Estes Kefauver's crime committee investigates illegal gambling in Miami and Tampa. Dade and Broward sheriffs are forced out of office; new sheriffs order raids on gambling dens.

1958 Former heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey lobbies the Dade County Commission for permission to open four casinos. Commission votes 3-2 to give preliminary approval and then, under pressure from Gov. LeRoy Collins, reverses its vote a week later.

1959 Gov. LeRoy Collins authors a three-page article in Parade magazine entitled: "Legalized Gambling is Poison."

1960s Dog racing and jai alai experience explosive growth in Florida.

1965 A Dade County grand jury issues a report concluding that syndicate-controlled gambling and prostitution flourishes in South Florida.

1969 State Racing Commission transferred to the Division of Parimutuel Wagering within the Department of Business Regulation.

1970 Bingo is legalized.

1971 Federal agents arrest 47 people for running an illegal numbers lottery and sports betting racket in largest sting of gambling ring in Florida history. The ring operated out of Central Florida and reached from Miami to New York with links to the mob.

1972 Bolita kingpin Fred Chapman admits to a Dade County grand jury that he operated an extensive numbers racket out of Dade and Broward counties, collecting nickel and dime wagers and funneling the money into "counting houses." He had been arrested at least six times but never served a jail sentence for gambling.

1976 Legislature passes a series of bills to provide temporary relief to the horse racing industry.

1978 Gov. Reubin Askew leads "No Casinos" drive that helps defeat a casino ballot initiative.

1979 Seminole Tribe of Florida defies Florida's $100 limit on bingo jackpots and opens the nation's first high-stakes Indian bingo hall in Hollywood. Attorney General Bob Butterworth sues and loses.

1981 U.S. Supreme Court affirms tribe's right to high-stakes bingo in Hollywood. Tampa bingo hall opens.

1983 A statewide grand jury issues a 103-count indictment against a Marion County-based gambling ring.

1984 Offshore, nontaxable "cruises to nowhere" begin and simulcasting of races begins.

1986 Florida voters approve a state lottery and reject casinos by a 2 to 1 ratio.

1987 California vs. Cabazon Bank of Mission Indians opens door to tribes' self-regulation of gaming in states.

1988 Congress passes the National Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, giving states a role in determining the level of gaming that is available to tribes. Limited gaming facilities set up at Hollywood, Immokalee and Tampa reservations.

1994 Casino referendum fails 62-38 percent but passes in Broward and is narrowly defeated by 2,000 votes in Miami-Dade. Seminole casinos start offering poker.

1996Card rooms at parimutuel facilities are legalized. U.S. Supreme Court upholds Florida's rights to block the tribe from expanding to new casino games.

1999 Florida sues federal government to challenge new rules over state jurisdiction over tribal gambling.

2000 More than 350 illegal video slot machines are seized by state officials in nine west-central Florida counties, including Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough.

2004 Voters approve a constitutional amendment with 50.8 percent of the vote allowing Broward and Miami-Dade counties to approve slot machines at local tracks and jai alai frontons; Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casinos in Tampa and Hollywood open.

2005 Broward voters approve Las Vegas-style slot machines; Miami-Dade voters narrowly reject them.

2006 Broward parimutuels open slot casinos.

2007 Gov. Charlie Crist signs an agreement with the Seminoles allowing them to have Las Vegas-style slots, blackjack and baccarat at their seven tribal casinos. Legislature allows card rooms to host domino games, raises bet limits from $2 to $5, allows for regulated instant bingo and regulated poker tournaments and increases hours of operation for slot machine operators.

2008 Miami-Dade voters authorize Las Vegas-style slot machines at their horse and dog track and jai alai fronton. The state Supreme Court rules that Crist did not have the authority to make the deal with the Seminoles without legislative approval. The tribe rushes to get its table games installed.

2009 Legislature passes a bill that expands gambling and opens the door to no-limit, 24-hour-a-day poker games on weekends and possibility of video lottery terminals at dog and horse tracks if approved via local referendum; Crist signs expansive gambling bill at Design and Architecture Senior High School in Miami-Dade.

A timeline of gambling in Florida 11/25/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 25, 2009 5:52pm]
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