Disney Makes Another Large Donation to Fight Gambling Expansion

Palm trees in Florida

Disney, a company that has been a long-time opponent of casino gambling, has made another major contribution to an effort to stop gambling expansion in Florida.

Disney donates $5 million

Backed by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Disney Worldwide Services recently contributed $5m (£3.84m) to the “Voters in Charge” political action committee (PAC), a group established to support a constitutional amendment that will prohibit widespread gambling expansion in the state.

So far, Disney has donated $14.6m (£11.2m) to the ballot entry, Amendment 3, which will appear on ballots in the state’s November general election.

The ballot proposal needs to be approved by 60% of Florida voters. If that happens, it will re-write the Florida state constitution, giving voters the right to decide on casino gambling and casino-style games. Voters in Charge, which has about $20m (£15.3m) on hand to fight its cause, argues this would dramatically reduce the power of the governor and the state legislature and make the expansion of gambling a truly democratic proposition.

To no one’s surprise, they will face stiff opposition. Two other PACs, with some powerful pro-gambling money behind them, are opposing against Amendment 3. Naturally, they argue that stifling the gambling industry will harm investment, employment, and tourism in the state. Isadore Havenick, from Miami’s Magic City Casino, said, “The pari-mutuels and the ancillary businesses that work with us provide a lot of jobs and tax revenue to the state and local communities. We have to defend ourselves.”

A glimpse of the future?

It’s too early to say whether Amendment 3 will succeed but, as my colleague Sadonna Price has written previously, this is not the first time that big companies have funded action against gambling. And, as I wrote back in June, banks in the UK are taking steps to stop payments to online sports betting companies.

It all raises an interesting question: Charities like GambleAware seem more interested in research for the sake of research than in action. The UK Government slashed the maximum stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals from £100 ($130) to £2 ($2.60) but then postponed putting the measure into place until 2020 at the earliest.

Meanwhile, corporations like Disney are taking direct action. In the UK, the city of Aberdeen is taking specific action on problem gambling among young children.

As charities and governments stand by, “virtue signaling” but taking little concrete action, could it be that the future of gambling expansion will be fought on the ballots of the US and Europe, as local pressure groups get ever more involved in the future of casinos and online sports betting?

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