Florida’s Amendment 3: Disney Spends $20M to Block New Casinos
An anti-casino ballot initiative this November in Florida could give voters in that state the power to block any new casinos. If this measure, which is bolstered by Disney and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, is approved, Amendment 3 of the Florida Constitution would mean that any new casinos would require approval from 60 percent of the state. Put together, Walt Disney Co. and the Seminole Tribe of Florida have poured about $36 million to fund the measure, with Disney’s contribution being around $20 million.
The threshold would give protection to the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which, under federal law, dominates gambling establishments. Disney is another huge supporter of the measure because it would rather have Florida tourists spending their money at one of their locations or events than at a blackjack table.
Reasons for Wanting Gambling Expansion in Florida
Gambling companies have wanted to get into Florida’s market for a long time. Its status as a tourist destination, its size, and huge number of retirees with extra time and cash on their hands make it the ideal state for casinos and racetracks. For many years, Florida counties have tried to bring in legal slot machines, but no legislation was passed.
Gambling in Florida
The Florida lottery was established in 1986 and in the ‘90s, pari-mutuel betting at horse and dog tracks and jai-alai frontons were allowed to add poker games. During the next decade, some areas got slot machines. Magic City Casino in Miami is permitted to offer slot and poker machines under special rules for pari-mutuels. The casino supports the Vote No on 3 committee.
Opposition to Amendment 3
Not everyone is supportive of the measure. In an article by Bloomberg, Dan Adkins, the chairperson for Citizens for the Truth About Amendment 3, Inc., spoke out against the Seminole Tribe:
“The Seminole Tribe of Florida is trying to buy a monopoly. Their arguments are all self serving.”
Citizens for the Truth About Amendment 3, Inc. is a political committee fighting Amendment 3 and has backing from racetracks and casinos. Adkins is not without bias, though, since he works at a greyhound racing venue named Big Easy Casino in Hallandale Beach, Florida. The casino would like to expand its gaming options.
Other opponents to the measure include a sod farming company (that shares an address with the Miami Dolphins), the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and MGM Resorts International.
Adkins’ committee has put about $7 million to fight the initiative. Another opposition group called “Vote NO on 3” has put in another $1 million.
NFL’s Position on this Amendment
MGM has given $500,000 to Citizens for the Truth About Amendment 3, and Fontainebleau Miami Beach, which has the same owner as the Big Easy, has given $250,000. An LLC associated with the Buccaneers gave $500,000 and the South Florida Sod Farm, which is based out of the same stadium complex where the Dolphins play, gave the same amount.
Support from Voters
A poll conducted by the Florida Chamber of Commerce shows that 54 percent of voters intend to vote “yes” on Amendment 3. Eighteen percent are undecided and 28 percent plan to vote “no.”
Final Thoughts on Florida’s Amendment 3
Overall, both sides would say there’s a lot at stake here, and no matter what the results are on November 6th, it’s unlikely the “loser” will give up. Litigation will probably continue for years. With sports betting legal in America, casino expansion in Florida will be a hotly contested battle for the foreseeable feature.
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