HOLLYWOOD · The pari-mutuel industry won't give this city a cut of the action if voters approve slot machines in South Florida's race tracks and jai-alai frontons. But officials opted to remain neutral Wednesday rather than mount an active campaign against the machines.
City manager Cameron Benson met with pari-mutuel representatives to ask for a portion of profits in return for supporting the slot machine issue on a special March 8 ballot. But pari-mutuel officials won't ante up.
"We really did not get any sense from them that they wanted to do anything to benefit the city of Hollywood," Benson told the City Commission. "I don't see any type of positive outcome for the city of Hollywood regarding our discussions."
Though Hollywood has no race tracks or frontons, the next-door cities of Dania Beach and Hallandale Beach do, and Hollywood officials chafe that their neighbors have made deals with the pari-mutuels for a percentage of the take.
Hollywood would see an increase in traffic and police and fire calls should the slots draw more tourists to the nearby pari-mutuels, and the city should be compensated, Benson said. "The traffic will be there. ... Our public safety will be impacted," the manager said, adding the city may have to raise taxes to make up for the increase in services.
Hollywood officials, led by Mayor Mara Giulianti, earlier threatened to mount an opposition campaign against the slots if they were shut out of a cut. But Wednesday, despite debating the issue for nearly two hours before a chamber full of slots supporters, the commission decided to stand by an earlier resolution asking to delay the ballot, in which Broward and Miami-Dade county voters would decide whether slots should be allowed in seven South Florida pari-mutuel operations.
Giulianti was bitter over the financial snub from the pari-mutuels. "The way we were treated by the CEOs of those things -- they don't want to give us a red cent," she said. "The villains are not us, the villains are the gambling interests who make the money."
But the mayor could generate little support.
Robert Nolin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-572-2024.