Florida Votes in Favour of Blocking Casino Gambling Expansion

Florida voters have spoken in favour of Amendment 3 to the state’s constitution, giving them the power to block any expansion of casino gambling.

Voters say no to casino growth

On 6 November, voters in the Sunshine State made their way to their local ballot stations. There they cast their vote on Amendment 3, the Voter Approval of Casino Gambling Initiative. A 60% super-majority vote was needed for its approval, thereby giving voters the right to decide on expansion plans for casino gambling in Florida.

According to the Miami Herald, Amendment 3, which was proposed by Voters in Charge – a political committee financed by the Seminole tribe and Walt Disney – received around 70% of the vote. It now means that any proposed new casinos in the state will have to receive 60% voter approval first before work can go ahead.

If the No camp had prevailed, then the decision to expand casino gambling in the state would have remained with the legislature.

Last month, it was reported that Disney and the Seminole tribe had spent $36m (£27.4m) to ensure that Florida didn’t become the next Vegas. At the time, Jacquee Wahler, a Disney spokesperson, said that: “Amendment 3 returns that decision to Florida voters and enables them to have the final say on this issue.”

She added that Disney is against the expansion of casinos in the state as it risks its “reputation as a family-friendly destination”.

Prior to the vote, the Yes campaign had received the most funding, with Disney giving $20m ($15.2m) to support it. The Florida Chamber of Commerce is reported to have supported the amendment.

Opposition groups, Citizens for the Truth About Amendment 3 and Vote NO raised around $7m (£5.3m) and $1m ($762,000), respectively. Others against the motion were the NFL’s Miami Dolphins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The report from last month notes that both teams gave $500,000 (£381,000) to the Citizens for the Truth About Amendment 3.

Before the vote, the Miami Dolphins were reported to have taken to social media to voice their political stance against the amendment, according to SBNation. Now, though, with Florida voters saying no to expansion plans, the Seminole tribe retains its monopoly on Florida casino gaming.

As noted by Ballotpedia, Amendment 3 gives voters “the exclusive method of authorizing casino gambling”, which means that the Florida state legislature would not be permitted to “authorize casino gambling through statute or through referring a constitutional amendment to the ballot”.

Arkansas and Maryland vote

In contrast to Florida, voters in Arkansas and Maryland took to the November polls to approve gaming-related measures.

In Arkansas, voters approved Issue 4, which was an amendment to see casino gaming being legalized in the state. According to the report, supporters are of the opinion that this will keep gambling revenues in the state rather than seeing them go elsewhere.

Meanwhile, in Maryland, a casino lockbox has been approved. This will ensure that schools across the state receive funding from gambling revenues for educational purposes. Prior to this, money was only being used to meet funding requirements.