Amidst revelations that the Central Florida Greyhound Association is bankrolling two candidates for the Longwood city commission, the Sanford-Orlando Kennel Club appeared to walk back support and denied endorsing its employee Richard Drummond as a candidate for the city commission, despite public records showing the maximum contribution to his campaign.
“SOKC does not endorse individual candidates for public office, even if the candidate is an employee, as is the case with Mr. Drummond” the kennel club said in a statement.
Casino gambling and dog racing have long been issues in Longwood politics as the kennel club has been reportedly working for years to lobby local officials. This year appears to be no different, with the Greyhound Association responsible for roughly 20% of the money raised by candidates Richard Drummond and Matt Morgan and displaying campaign signs for the candidates along its Longwood area property.
Commissioner Mark Weller released a statement this week opposing gambling expansion in Longwood, saying in a statement: “How can my opponent say he wants the best for Longwood when he supports expanding The Sanford Orlando Kennel Club and the associated crime and family problems that any gambling expansion would bring to the City of Longwood?”
Longwood voters will decide on three commission seats on November 7th.
We came across a letter showing the Dog Track Lobbying the current commissioner for expansion of Poker Lobbying the Commission
Mayor Durso and fellow Commissioners,
Attached you will see state-wide card room revenues July 2016 – May 2017. As you are aware, West Volusia Racing (Orange City Racing and Card Club) opened March 1st 2017. In this short time frame Orange City has already established itself as the state’s sixth largest poker room with an average of $800,000 in monthly revenue and is on pace to generate nearly $9.0 million in revenue annually. Regulated poker in the State of Florida is taxed at 10.0% of revenue which is split 50-50 between the Pari-Mutuel Trust Fund and General Fund. Twenty five percent (25%) of the Pari-Mutuel Trust fund goes to local municipalities hosting a card room. Annualized, Orange City can expect to receive over $100,000 annually for host a poker facility.Prior to West Volusia Racing opening Orange City wagering on Sanford Orlando Kennel Club’s (SOKC) live races for 2017 up 2.0%, on-track simulcast handle was up 1.0% and food and beverage sales were up 2.0%. Since Orange City’s grand opening SOKC has seen a 3.0% decline in live racing handle, a 4.0% decline in simulcast handle and a 2.0% decline in food and beverage sales. We have noticed Orange City’s advertising and marketing efforts in our area is increasing and we are seeing more regular customers commenting on visits to that facility; both are worrisome trends going forward.
Even prior to the opening of Orange City a sizable amount of money was leaving Longwood and Seminole County and diverted to poker facilities 45 minutes to 90 minutes away, generating tax revenues and other ancillary revenues for other municipalities. Now a poker facility is within 20 minutes of the doorsteps of SOKC. In just a few short months Orange City has directly and negatively impacted our business at SOKC and unfortunately if it continues we could be forced to reduce hours for our employees and ultimately eliminate positions.
The benefits of a card room have been presented before and I bring them up once again to your attention: the potential for 100+ good paying jobs benefiting local and regional residents;, $100,000+ in direct tax revenues to the city of Longwood plus an increased valuation of the property, multi-million dollar private investment in extensive interior and exterior building improvements; positive impacts on existing local businesses and the potential of other businesses coming to Dog Track Road and the surrounding area giving Longwood an entertainment destination like none other in Seminole County.
I am available at any time to meet with you or your fellow Commissioners to further discuss the benefits of a card room at SOKC at your convenience.