BONITA SPRINGS, Fla - The Bonita Springs City Council approved a plan that would bring in millions of dollars in profits. That is only if slot machines go into the Naples Fort Myers Greyhound Racing and Poker Center.
On November 6, Lee County voters will decide whether or not they want slot machines at the dog track in Bonita Springs. If the referendum passes, Bonita Springs will cash in.
The owners of the Naples Fort Myers Greyhound Racing and Poker Center are ready to expand, but they're waiting for a green light from voters to approve slot machines at the dog track.
"We expect this to be a boom for the entire area," says Vice President Isadore Havenick. If the referendum passes, Bonita Springs will have an agreement already in place that ensures they get a share of the slot machines profits.
Wednesday, council members approved a voluntary share agreement. This means the city will get 1.5 percent of the tracks gross profit until the track brings in $250 million. After the track reaches that threshold, the city will get 2.5 percent.
"I think it was really important for the dog track and the city to get these issues squared away ahead of time just in case the referendum does go through," says Bonita Springs Mayor Ben Nelson.
While the council voted unanimously, some members and residents felt the city was selling itself short.
"We think we should be getting a greater amount than we are going to be getting," says Bonita Springs resident Ron Pure.
That's because there are big expectations the dog track, if allowed to have slot machines, will generate a major economic boost to the community.
Havenick says the agreement is the standard, used across the state and negotiating for more wasn't an option. He insists the agreement is a win win deal for Bonita Springs and Lee County.
"We intend to keep all the promises we make. We plan to employ 500 new people. We plan to build an entertainment destination that Lee County and Bonita Springs can be proud of," says Havenick.
Lee County could also get 1.5 percent of the gross revenue, but, that's only if voters approve the slot machine referendum in November. If it fails, the agreement voted on by the Bonita Springs City Council goes out the window.
If residents to vote for the referendum, construction would start in June of 2013 with a completion date expected the summer of 2014.