Florida Anti-Gambling Group Looks to Safeguard Against Gambling Expansion Through Possible Ballot Initiative

Casino Watch Focus has reported that a key slot machine license case in the state of Florida has major implications for statewide gambling expansion.  The Florida Attorney General asked a Florida Appellate Court to reevaluate its peculiar ruling that allowed a local vote of the people to allow slots machines at nearby dog and horse racing tracks despite the fact that state law only allows for slots at a few designated areas in the state.  If the Supreme Court upholds the Appellate court ruling, it will essentially expand gambling with no approval from the legislature, the greater people of Florida, or the state constitution.  The Florida high court outcome will drive a new anti-gambling group’s decision as to whether or not to pursue a ballot initiative that requires a vote of the people to expand casino style gambling games.  An online source explains:

A newly-formed political committee called “Voters in Charge” announced Tuesday it has started a petition-gathering process, with an eye on getting a proposal on the 2018 ballot. If approved, the “Voter Control of Gambling” constitutional amendment would require future statewide votes to authorize casino-style games including blackjack, craps and roulette.

In the Gadsden County case, the Supreme Court could allow Gretna to operate slots without legislative approval or decide that the Legislature must approve the slots. Or the court could rule that the expansion of slots at pari-mutuels outside of Broward and Miami-Dade counties requires another constitutional change.

“We view this as an insurance policy, frankly,” [John] Sowinski, the committee chairman, said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “We want to be positioned and ready so if there is a court decision that does not affirm that the people have the final say on this, that they’ve got an amendment that makes it abundantly clear on the ballot,” Sowinski said.

Voters In Charge is backed by No Casinos, a group supported by Disney World, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and a variety of tourism-related groups. Sowinski is also the president of No Casinos.

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