Horse Racing at Miami International Airport? Not a Joke, Apparently

The City of Miami is so desperate for revenue that nothing should really surprise us here in Riptide's heavily fortified underground command bunker.

Cockfighting at Miami-Dade Public Libraries? Yawn. Legalized brothels beneath county hall? Eh, whatevs. Drunken Russian roulette tourneys at Manny Diaz's place? Sure, we'll believe it.

But the Onion-esque absurdity of this morning's Miami Herald report on efforts to place casinos at Miami International Airport made even our jaded heads snap back into a full-on Laurel and Hardy double-take.

Horse racing? At the airport?

It's not a joke. Here's the background: The county commission filed an application with state gambling regulators for slots at MIA in the hope that the machines could funnel $17 million into the strapped airport. But state law allows slots only in counties where quarter-horse racing is afoot.

Not one quarter-horse race has been staged in Miami-Dade in decades. Commissioners are hoping to get the sport restarted at Gulfstream or another local track, according to the Herald. But if that fails, they're ready to build a track right in the employee parking lot.

The whole idea is absurd, clearly. But the larger issue is plummeting gambling revenues around the nation. Horse racing or not, depending on slot machines to keep your airport afloat is about as smart as running a county on property taxes after a housing bubble explosion... oh, wait...

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink