Gambling Issues Face Florida Voters

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Gambling Issues Face Florida Voters


The future of Florida gambling will be shaped by what the state’s voters decide in November.


There will be 13 ballot measures facing Florida voters in the general election. One will deal with who has the power to determine whether to legalize gambling. Another could end dog racing in the state.


The first initiative is Amendment 3. Its text would give voters the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling in the State of Florida.” That means that legislators could not pass a law to legalize casino gambling nor could they refer a constitutional amendment to legalize gambling to the ballot for voters to decide. Only through a citizen initiative could the state constitution be changed to allow casino gambling. Currently, slot machines are currently permitted at racing facilities in two Florida counties, and the Seminole tribe also offers blackjack gambling in five facilities. 



Supporters of the amendment say that voters, not legislators, should be the ones who decide the future of casino gambling in Florida. According to them, this amendment would ensure that legislators are too influenced by lobbyists and backroom deals. Opponents of Amendment 3 point out that its passage would greatly benefit the Seminole Tribe by protecting its gambling operations from competition. The Seminole Tribe has provided significant funding to place this initiative before voters.


The second gambling-related measure on November’s ballot is Amendment 13. This state constitutional amendment would prohibit wagering on dog races. Currently, Florida joins 10 other states in allowing gambling on dog racing. This amendment would outlaw that practice and empower the legislature to enact civil or criminal penalties for those who engage in it. Amendment 13 came about not by citizens initiating it, but by the state’s Constitution Revision Commission. That commission meets every 20 years and refers constitutional changes to the voters.


Do you think that only voters, not legislators, should decide on the future of casino gambling in Florida? Should Florida ban betting on dog races?


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