Florida voters back gambling amendment

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Florida voters have backed a constitutional amendment that will give them the exclusive rights to authorize or expand casino gambling in the state.

Amendment 3, which required 60 percent of the vote to pass, was backed by 71 percent of Florida voters in Tuesday’s election. Put forward by a political committee called Voters In Charge, which was largely funded by Disney and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the amendment gives Florida voters the sole decision making powers when it comes to new gambling facilities.

Voters In Charge spent more than $31 million in publicising the amendment, which was initially sparked by a series of delays and rejections for new gambling operations in the Florida state legislature, where the House is largely opposed to gambling.

So far, unlike a number of other states, Florida has not exploited May’s Supreme Court ruling that legalizes sports betting, and lawmakers have also been resistant to proposals from gambling companies for the construction of gambling, retail and leisure resorts.

A long process

But although the amendment gives voters the ability to approve new gambling operations, the practical effect could be to make that harder. Any change introduced through voter decision tends to be a long process, and the result is likely to mean that there would be little if any movement on that front for the foreseeable future, which will be to the benefit of both Disney and the Seminole Tribe, who currently operate gambling facilities and venues in the state.

While the Florida Chamber of Commerce backed the amendment, there was widespread opposition among online sports betting companies, including FanDuel and DraftKings, dog and horse racing venues that fear they could be put out of business by voter decisions, and even sports franchises. On Monday, NFL team the Miami Dolphins came out against the Amendment, as it is likely to make it harder for them to exploit opportunities for partnerships with new sports betting operators.

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