In addition to the crucial mid-term elections, there is another vote looming in America which could have a profound effect on the gambling industry in Florida. Also, taking place in November, Floridians are set to vote on an amendment called the ‘Voter Approval of Casino Gambling Initiative’ or ‘Florida Amendment 3’.
What is Florida Amendment 3?
Florida Amendment 3 is a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would alter the constitution so as to prevent the Florida legislature from passing any future law regarding gambling.
*A “yes” vote supports this amendment to provide voters, through citizen-initiated ballot measures, with the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling in Florida.
*A “no” vote opposes this amendment to provide voters, through citizen-initiated ballot measures, with the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling in Florida.
In Florida, a constitutional amendment requires a 60 percent vote of electors to be approved. Source: BallotPedia.org
It would, therefore, freeze gambling law in the state and make any potential future law subject to state-wide approval through a ballot measure. Given that Florida is a very culturally and politically diverse state, it is widely believed that it would be almost impossible for any such laws to be passed in that way.
Sam Jones, Florida resident and gambling writer for alloutslots.com has this to say on the matter:
‘What people don’t realize is that while Amendment 3 sounds like a good idea in principle, in practice it’s going to make it virtually impossible to pass any gambling related law changes effectively monopolizing the market for those currently allowed to operate in the state.’
The potential amendment has been advanced and touted as being a way for Florida voters to take better control legislative control over gambling in their state. An investigation of the main supporters of the amendment, however, reveals another motivation entirely.
Who Is Advancing & Supporting the Amendment?
The two main driving forces behind Amendment 3 are the Walt Disney Company and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
Disney is pushing the amendment as part of their long-established and well-publicized desire to limit gambling of any and all kinds in Florida. The company is of the opinion that gambling could damage the state’s ‘family friendly’ tourist reputation and thus directly impact their own business.
The Seminole Tribe of Florida, meanwhile, run Seminole Tribe of Florida operations in Tampa and Hollywood. With gambling legislation in the state as it is currently, therefore, they essentially hold a de facto monopoly on the industry.
Both major proponents of the amendment, then, are clearly motivated by their own business interests in advancing it. They also both obviously view the amendment as of vital importance, given that they have spent a reported $36 million to support it.
There are other major supporters of the amendment, however, who claim that there are reasons for passing it outside of the commercial health of Disney and the Seminole Tribe. Speaker of the Florida House, Will Weatherford, is one such supporter and he recently explained why:
‘It would be safer for Florida if the voters were the ones ultimately making this decision…This is a very important issue with regard to the brand of Florida, and it’s something that’s so serious, we should be cautious with how we expand.’
Who’s Opposing the Amendment?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of the major opponents of Amendment 3 are those companies and organizations – other than Disney and the Seminole Tribe – which have a commercial interest in the gambling industry in Florida. These include the operators of various greyhound tracks in the state, daily fantasy provider FanDuel and Florida-based American football team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Alexis Winning, the spokeswoman for Derby Lane greyhound track, recently explained the major argument of those opposing the amendment:
‘Voters are being misled. Their advertising is very deceiving…It’s about two corporations protecting themselves.’
The Buccaneers recently donated $500,000 to the campaign to vote no on the amendment, but in general terms, the campaign is less financed than their opponents. In spite of that, however, a large number of non-gambling related organizations have rallied to the ‘no’ cause.
Some of those groups oppose the amendment due to the restrictions which they believe it could place on the state’s future tax revenues. Many of Florida’s leading newspaper editorial boards, meanwhile, have criticized the amendment as a way of removing power from voters and bolstering the control of Disney and the Seminole Tribe.
Is the Amendment Likely to Pass?
In order to be ratified as an amendment to the Florida state constitution, amendment 3 would need to be supported by 60% of the state’s voters. Polls from earlier in 2018 suggested that support for the amendment could be as high as 70% or over. A more recent poll from the Florida Chamber of Commerce, however, returned a 54% result in favor of the amendment.
Despite the financial advantage of the ‘yes’ campaign, therefore, it seems that the result of the ballot regarding Florida Amendment 3 is still very much in the balance. The TV and social media ads which have been prevalent from both sides, are only likely to become more commonplace in the next few weeks. Whether they will be able to move the needle far enough in one direction or the other, however, remains to be seen.
NOTE: The opinions expressed here are those of AlloutSlots.com