Walt Disney Donates $20m to Fight Casino Expansion in Florida

Walt Disney and the Seminole tribe of Florida have together put up $36m to ensure that the state of Florida doesn’t become the next Vegas.

Walt Disney donates $20 million

Next month will see mid-term elections taking place in the US. November will also see a ballot initiative in Florida that will give voters the power to block the expansion of casino gambling in the state.

If the ballot is approved, it would require 60% state-wide support for any new casino under Amendment 3 of the Florida constitution, reports Bloomberg. The report adds that this measure would protect the Seminole tribe of Florida, which operates gambling establishments that are federally recognised in the state.

In a bid to ensure that Florida doesn’t become the next Vegas, the Seminole tribe along with Walt Disney have given $36m (£27.4m). According to Dan Adkins, chair of the Citizens for the Truth About Amendment 3, a political committee that is fighting the measure, said that the arguments of the Seminole tribe “are all self-serving”.

He claimed: “The Seminole Tribe of Florida is trying to buy a monopoly.”

Jacquee Wahler, a Disney spokesperson, argued, however, that: “Amendment 3 returns that decision to Florida voters and enables them to have the final say on this issue.” She added that Disney opposes the expansion because it risks Florida’s “reputation as a family-friendly destination”.

The Yes campaign to block expansions has received the most corporate funding, with Walt Disney alone spending $20m (£15.2m) to support it. The Citizens for the Truth About Amendment 3 has received around $7m (£5.3m), and another opposition group, Vote NO on 3, has received $1m (£762,000).

Furthermore, a poll conducted by the Florida Chamber of Commerce between 19-24 September found that 54% of respondents were planning to vote in favour of the block. Those intending to vote no numbered 28%, while 18% were still undecided.

While there appears to be a large amount of people against the gambling expansion, there are some who are in favour of it.

NFL teams against the measure

One of the amendment’s supporters seems to be the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

According to a separate report from Bloomberg, South Florida Sod gave $500,000 (£381,000) to Citizens for the Truth About Amendment 3 last month. South Florida Sod Farm also happens to be the home turf of the Miami Dolphins. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers also gave the same amount in opposition of the measure.

Neither team commented, but it’s likely they are watching the measure closely. This is due to the fact that in May, a US Supreme Court ruling opened the door for states to legalise sports gambling. MGM Resorts International is also against the move.

It remains to be seen what the end result will be after 6 November. If successful, this would be another hurdle for gambling companies to jump over, as it would require them to seek 60% voter approval. If successful, it would also mean that the Seminole tribe of Florida remains superior to all others in the state.

Florida, however, would be an ideal location for gambling companies to expand into. The large number of tourists it attracts each year – 116.5 million in 2017, up 3.6% from 2016 – and the fact that it has many retirees who may be searching for something to fill their time are a few factors that make it a good location.

Yet, given the fact that so many are voting against the measure, time will soon tell which side ends up the winner. After the ballot has taken place and the votes have been counted the state of Florida will know whether or not additional casinos will be entering its fold.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *