Expanding casino gambling in Florida may be decided by voters

Aug 15, 2018 9:57 AM

Expanding casino gambling in Florida may be decided by Sunshine State voters, with word that Disney Worldwide Services, Inc. and the Seminole Tribe of Florida are continuing to heavily fund an effort to pass a constitutional amendment that would make it more difficult to expand gambling in the state.

Amendment 3, if approved by 60 percent of voters, would alter the Florida Constitution giving give voters the "exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling" in the state. Passage would require voter approval of casino-style games in the future and effectively reduce the power of the Legislature and governor to decide gambling-related issues. 

The proposed amendment does not include pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing, dog racing, or jai alai exhibitions and, and has no specific references to sports betting. Some legal observers are on record as believing the amendment would cover sports betting. At the very least, they say sports betting remains unlikely in Florida without a change in the gaming compact between the state and the Seminole Tribe, the state’s major casino operator.

Disney and the Seminole Tribe each contributed $5 million on July 30 to the political committee, Voters In Charge, which is leading efforts to pass the constitutional amendment in the November general election, a newly filed finance report reveals.

Disney has contributed at least $14.655 million into supporting the ballot issue, while the tribe has put up at least $11.775 million, according to a state database.