Amendment 3 would require citizen approval of some casino gambling in Florida. It would not apply to casinos on Native American lands, or horse racing, dog racing, or jai alai. It would forbid the legislature from approving any other casino gambling or putting an initiative on the ballot for voters to approve other casino gambling.
Little to no fiscal impact.
Proponents’ Argument For
Proponents argue that without voter approval gambling becomes legalized only through corrupt legislative decisions. With this measure, it would be the citizens directly deciding how much gambling they want to have in their state. Should the citizens decide they want to have gambling, this measure ensures that the legislature and lobbyists won’t be able to block those efforts. They argue that citizens deserve to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to deciding on gambling in the state.
Opponents’ Argument Against
Opponents argue that powerful gambling interests in Florida support this measure because it would insulate them from competition, as the measure only allows for bans on opening certain future establishments. This effectively means that all existing gambling entertainment establishments, which would compete with new casino-style business are shielded from protection unless citizens approve of something new that spans the entire state. They argue that this would take away localities ability to decide a casino might be good for their areas.
It is true that even if voter approval of gambling is preferable, this measure doesn’t truly allow citizens to decide if gambling is going to be present in Florida or not, as it only bans opening future establishments. There is already casino gambling on Seminole lands and sports betting statewide. Combined with easily available online gambling. So making it difficult to approve new casinos does not prevent gambling in Florida, it merely reduces competition.
Two organizations are the prime movers of this initiative, the Disney Corporation and the Seminole Tribe, both of which have large entertainment businesses they want to protect from potential competition from new casinos.
Rather than virtually eliminating legislative decision making on gambling as this measure does, Florida would be better off legalizing casinos and regulating any real problems that emerge from them. And the state should leave it up to local governments to zone them. This strategy would fit very well into Florida’s visitor-oriented economy and broaden its economic base.
The Voters’ Guide examines the proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution that are on the Nov. 6, 2018, ballot.