Q&A - Voters In Charge

Q&A

Q. The Florida Legislature recently rejected plans to put Las Vegas-style casinos in South Florida. In addition, Las Vegas Sands has announced they are no longer actively pursuing the effort in Florida. Why is this necessary?

A.  The history of the expansion of gambling in Florida shows that those who want more gambling never stop. Rest assured that the international gambling conglomerates one day will return to Florida whenever they see an opportunity to expand here. We also have seen pari-mutuel owners repeatedly coming before the legislature claiming they must “level the playing field” by morphing into Vegas-style casinos, in an ever-escalating build up of gambling. Recently, pari-mutuel owners are seeking to bypass the legislature and use the court system to exploit wording in a statute to obtain slot machines.

Because of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), any gambling made legal in the state has to be given to the Native American tribes in our state. Therefore, decisions made to give gambling to one facility can have a domino effect on other communities in Florida. The only way this will stop is for there to be a definitive constitutional barrier restoring power to Florida voters.

Q.  Doesn’t the state constitution already restrict gambling?

A.  Yes.  In the constitution, Article X, section 7 states: “Lotteries, other than the types of pari-mutuel pools authorized by law as of the effective date of this constitution, are hereby prohibited in this state.”For many years most policymakers and legal experts interpreted this as meaning no new gambling could be approved in Florida without amending the constitution. Conflicting case law, however, has given rise to the notion that the Florida Legislature can bypass this constitutional prohibition and legalize casino gambling.   A very authoritative legal analysis of this issue was provided in the Florida Bar Journal a couple of years ago, and can be found here.

We want to ensure that the people of Florida remain the ultimate judges of casino expansion in Florida. This petition resolves that issue once and for all.

 

Q.  What is the history of gambling referenda in Florida?

A.  Florida voters have repeatedly voted down proposals to allow Las Vegas-style casinos to enter Florida. In fact, votes in 1978 and 1986 were over 2 to 1 against the proposals. The vote in 1994 failed by 24 percentage points. Only with a carefully worded initiative in 2004 promising slots would be confined to existing pari-mutuel facilities in Broward and Miami-Dade, did gambling proponents pass an amendment by a slim .8% margin (when the threshold for passage was only a simple majority). As could have been predicted, the South Florida pari-mutuels did not produce promised revenue to Florida education, with the gambling expansion only escalating pressure to introduce slot machines in other counties.

  • 1978: Yes= 28.6%, No=71.4%
  • 1986: Casino gambling: Yes=31.7%, No=68.3%
    Lottery: Yes=63.6%, No=36.4%
  • 1994: Yes=38.0%, No=62.0%
  • 2004: Yes=50.8%, No=49.2%

Q.  Will Florida voters support this proposed amendment?

Supporters of Voters In Charge developed this amendment three years ago for legislative consideration. Polling on the amendment has show it consistently getting support approaching or exceeding 70% of Florida voters. We have little doubt about our ability to prevail if this issue is put to residents to decide.

 

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