Any decisions made about Florida’s gambling industry may soon be in the hands of the state’s citizens after a proposed constitutional amendment received enough signatures to be placed on the November ballot.
The group Voters in Charge is sponsoring a ballot initiative that would give Florida voters the right to make changes in the state’s gambling industry instead of leaving the decision-making up to politicians. The initiative will appear on the November ballot and, if approved, would make any expansion of the gaming industry a little more difficult.
Voter control of casino gambling initiative
For some time now, Voters in Charge has been pushing to see the Voter Control of Casino Gambling Initiative placed on the November general election ballot as Amendment 3. If the measure passes, the citizens of the state would have the exclusive right to decide whether or not to authorize casino gambling in the state. The new amendment would prevent lawmakers from authorizing any changes to the gambling industry without first earning voter approval.
The amendment would apply to games that are played at casinos, including slot machines and card games. The amendment would not affect gambling on tribal lands or racing, such as betting on horse or dog races.
Currently, gambling in all forms is regulated in Florida on a state level. Casino games, card games, and slot machines are not allowed in non-tribal gambling facilities, except in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, where slot machines were legalized in 2004 for mutual betting facilities.
Native American reservations in the state can offer gambling services under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. Gambling is legal in tribal casinos, bingo halls, and poker rooms. In 2010, the Seminole Tribe of Florida signed a compact with Governor Rick Scott, which gave Palm Beach and Miami-Dade mutual betting venues the opportunity to offer slot machines in their casinos. For this allowance, the Seminoles were given exclusivity to operate blackjack tables in five racinos in South Florida, if revenues were shared with the state.
A few years later, the governor signed a new agreement with the tribe that would allow craps and roulette to be offered. The Seminole tribe wants to maintain their exclusivity when it comes to casino gaming, so they have been major supporters of the initiative campaign.
Push for November
The Voter Control of Casino Gambling Initiative obtained 843,312 signatures, placing what is known as Amendment 3 on the November ballot. The amendment needs to be approved by 60% of the voters to become law. As November approaches, it can be expected that supporters and those opposed will ramp up efforts to influence voters.
The Seminole Tribe of Florida and Disney Worldwide Services Inc. have been strong supporters of the initiative because putting voters in charge would help their cause. The Seminoles want to maintain their monopoly in the casino industry while Disney wants to see their entertainment empire continue to flourish and not be subjected to additional competition that more casinos would bring. As reported by VSO News, both the Seminoles and Disney have been contributing heavily to the campaign since the first of the year, with contributions increasing over the past few months.
According to recent support campaign updates from June 30, the initiative campaign has raised a total of $17.43m (£13.19m). Disney was the top contributor, providing $9.66m (£7.31m) in support, while the Seminole Tribe came in second with $6.78m (£4.3m) in contributions. A total of $6.89 (£5.21) was spent per signature during the petition gathering and verification process.