Ballot Initiative Briefs Submitted to Florida Supreme Court: Mega Millions Not Impacted by the Initiative

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts of Voters in Charge to put together a ballot initiative in Florida to require a vote of the people before new gambling legislation can be authorized. Naturally, those with strong gambling interests who hope to expand gambling in Florida have pushed to oppose the petition. As is part of the normal process, the court reviews the ballot summary language and key issues about any ballot initiative, namely if it deals with a single issue and does the summary language adequately describe the amendment for voters. Those in opposition have pressed the court on these issues and have tried to raise questions about the reach and scope of the amendment. Those arguments were supplied in a brief to the Florida Supreme Court. The Saint Peters Blog reports:

Marc Dunbar, the lawyer representing gambling interests across the
state, opined in his own brief what that would mean for Mega Millions, a multi-state lottery game.

“Mega Millions drawings are conducted in Atlanta by officials with the Georgia Lottery,” Dunbar wrote. In comparison, Powerball numbers are drawn in Tallahassee by the Florida Lottery.

“The authority for the Florida Lottery to participate in Mega Millions was derived not from the State Constitution, but from the State Legislature” through a statute.

“This raises an important question not addressed by the proponents of the Voter Control Amendment: Since ‘casino gambling’ includes any game not authorized by … the Florida Constitution, would the Florida Lottery be required to discontinue sales of Mega Millions if the proposed amendment were to pass?”

Briefs were also submitted by those supporting the constitutional amendment which included arguments that directly refuted the claims of those representing gambling expansion interests. Additionally, it was made very clear in a statement released by Voters in Charge that Mega Millions wouldn’t be impact by the ballot initiative’s amendment. The St Peters Blog continues: 

In response, Voters in Charge issued a statement saying the amendment was worded “to specifically exempt Lottery operations.”

“That’s not just our opinion,” the statement said, explaining that Lottery officials themselves told the state’s Financial Impact Estimating Conference they “looked at the petition initiative and notified us that they do not see any impact … on their current or immediately planned operations.”

The committee also referred to the conference’s report, which found that “based on the plain language of the proposed amendment and according to the sponsor, the proposed amendment will not affect any game the state can operate lawfully.”

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