FORT MYERS, Fla. - Slot machines will be on the ballot this fall in Lee County.
On Tuesday night, Lee County commissioners decided to move ahead on a public vote to add slots, and potential jobs, to the Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Track in Bonita Springs.
"We're very excited the commission saw the wisdom in allowing the voters to decide this issue," said track vice president Isadore Havenick.
Backed by employees and vendors in green shirts at the meeting, owners told the commission that slots will help them create an entertainment destination, and 500 new jobs.
"It's jobs from accountants to marketing to housekeeping to entertainment, food and beverage," Havenick said.
Opponents made their case, saying more gambling will lead to more problems.
"What you hear today and what you hear in most place is not the actual truth unless you see the statistics yourself," said slots opponent Roy Hyman.
A referendum for slot machines already had unanimous support of the Bonita Springs city council:
"For 50 years, the dog track has been operating in Bonita Springs, and we haven't had any problems," said council member Martha Simons.
Commissioner Frank Mann applauded that positive history at the track, but says other concerns led him to vote no.
"It equates to the first step that's going to get Lee County into the full-blown casino business," Mann said.
On a 4-to-1 vote, the commission said it wants to hear from the whole county.
"I would like to know the will of the people," said commissioner Brian Bigelow.
Now comes a campaign before the November election. Opponents and track owners say they'll do what they can to convince voters.
"Go door-to-door if I have to, as will the rest of my family, to explain to the residents and voters of Lee County why this is a good idea," Havenick said.