Category Archives: Ballot Measure

Disney backs Florida Initiative Petition Efforts to Allow Voters the Final Say in State Gambling Matters

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing progress of the initiative petition by Voters in Charge which seeks to make all gambling expansion decisions passed by the legislature pass a vote of the people before they can become law. Many view this as a wonderful check on gambling expansion given the resent report that 84% of Florida voters want to hold the line or dial back gambling in the state. Most recently, the petition passed a legal challenge and the Florida Supreme Court cleared the bill to proceed, ruling it properly dealt with one subject and is not misleading. Now, Disney has decided to back the effort to collect the final signatures to put it on the 2018 ballot. An online source explains:

According to the group’s information on Facebook, Voters in Charge is sponsoring a ballot initiative “to give Florida voters, not politicians, the exclusive right to approve or disapprove casino gambling.”

Disney’s support for Voters in Charge jibes with the corporation’s previous claims that destination casinos would spoil the family-friendly vibe that its DisneyWorld resort prefers to give off. Disney is one of the highest – if not the top – contributor in the political committee’s campaign last month. 

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Florida Initiative Petition Amendment to Require Voters to Approve Gambling Expansion clears Florida Supreme Court Challenge

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing gambling amendment proposed by Voter’s in Charge. The petition seeks to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot giving voters the last vote on gambling expansion. As it stands now, the Florida legislature can pass gambling expansion even when the vast majority clearly supports leaving gambling where it is or ever reducing current gambling levels. The amendment would leave the final decision to the voters. The petition was challenged and the Supreme Court reviewed submitted briefs. After entertaining all arguments, the Supreme Court has ruled the petition doesn’t violate any state provisions and can proceed to the voters once the appropriate amount of signatures are gathered. The SunSentinel explains:

The court ruled 4-2 that the amendment’s wording was not misleading and sticks to one subject. The amendment gives Florida voters the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling.”

Backers of the amendment will still need to gather more than 700,000 signatures to make the 2018 ballot. They had submitted 74,626 signatures as of Thursday, according to the state Division of Elections.

Each chamber has passed their own gambling bills this month and they differ quite a bit. When that happens, they come together to produce a final bill that both sides can agree on. This ruling has caused the Florida legislature to cancel plans for a conference between the House and Senate to discuss their respective gambling bills. The SunSentinel continues:

Both the House and Senate have passed gambling bills this session, which ends May 5. The two bills are vastly different, forcing the two chambers to go into a conference to iron out the details.

That conference had been tentatively set for 4 p.m. Thursday, but the court’s decision to allow the constitutional amendment to go forward indefinitely postponed it, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

“The Supreme Court ruled today on voter control of gaming. I want to digest the decision before moving forward,” said conference chairman Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton.

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Vast Majority of Florida Voters Want to Maintain or Reduce current Gambling Levels

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing gambling expansion attempts in Florida. Many times over the years Florida voters have had a say in the expansion of gambling in Florida, but most of the time, Florida families are at the mercy of the legislature. If the Florida House and Senate agree to expand gambling due to special interest influence, citizens and families often lack recourse other that perhaps trying to elect new officials into office. Because of such strong pro-gambling interests, an initiative petition is in the works to give the power back to the people. So what do the people of Florida think about gambling? Do they approve of the gambling expansion efforts at the State Capitol? Are they fine with all the lobbing dollars from special gambling interests flowing through the Florida Legislature? Or do they believe gambling expansion should be stopped, or even reduced? A new poll seeks answers and the results should open the eyes to legislators who are representing their constituents. Florida Politics online explains:

The vast majority of Florida voters — 84 percent— “want to reduce or hold the line on gambling” and 60 percent also “are less likely to support a candidate … that votes to expand gambling,” a new poll released Monday shows. The latest Mason-Dixon poll included questions on gambling, according to a news release from No Casinos, Florida’s anti-gambling expansion group.

The anti-expansion “feeling among Floridians carries across all regions of the state: North Florida (87 percent), Central Florida (92 percent), Tampa Bay (81 percent), Southwest Florida (84 percent), Southeast Florida (78 percent),” the release said.

“Tallahassee politicians need to get the message that only 8 percent of Florida voters want gambling expanded, and 84 percent want it left alone or reduced,” said John Sowinski, president of No Casinos. “It’s time to stop listening to gambling lobbyists and listen to the people.” In addition, he said most “Floridians don’t want their elected officials to expand gambling, because they know that more gambling hurts the quality of life for them and their families.”

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DraftKings Sued for $4 million for Non-Payment of Advertising Deal

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many woes of the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) industry. They have come under fire for being sports gambling and various legislation has been passed on a state by state basis. Some have banned it, others have regulated it. They were scrutinized for insider-trading type scandals and hacking vulnerability. They have been exposed for their role in being used by the NFL to market to kids and the risk they put on corporations that allow fantasy sports in the workplace. Now one of the two major daily fantasy sports companies, DraftKings, is being sued for over $4 million for not paying their bills and backing out of contractual agreements. Forbes Online explains:

DraftKings has been sued in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, with the plaintiffs seeking no less than $4.16 million in damages. The stated damages include $575,000 in alleged unpaid invoices as well as benefits that DraftKings is claimed to have received from an agreement that DraftKings entered into.

On April 4, 2016, after four invoices were past due, the plaintiffs allegedly contacted Robins via text and Robins responded ensuring that payments would be made. That same day, DraftKings Chief Financial Officer Janet Holian asked the plaintiffs to stop producing the DraftKings-related programming. A week later, Holian said that DraftKings would not be making any further payments.

The plaintiffs claim that they are entitled to additional damages based on DraftKings’ promise that it would execute a contract reflecting the totality of the deal terms as well as the expenses that the plaintiffs incurred (well over $1 million, per the Complaint) due to DraftKings’ promises. Additionally, the plaintiffs allege that DraftKings was enriched at the plaintiffs’ expense. 

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Local Florida Initiative Petition Concerning Treatment of Greyhounds will make Upcoming Ballot

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the struggling greyhound tracks in Florida. The racing industry mainly stays in business to allow their facilities to operate slot machines, where their real profits stem. There have been numerous reports of ill treatment of the dogs and it’s the industry has been actively attempting to pass legislation that allows for gambling at their facilities without actually requiring dog races, a process referred to as decoupling. Decoupling efforts haven’t been successful so far, so the greyhound races are still a necessity. Given the issues with the treatment of the animals, a group has done the work to put together an initiative petition to require additional safeguards of the dogs. The Orlando Sentinel reports: 

Greyhound racing gets a full vetting today by Seminole County commissioners. At a public hearing in Sanford, commissioners will focus on the racing and the county powers over it.

Animal-welfare advocates grabbed the county’s attention last month when they plopped down a petition with enough signatures for a Nov. 8 ballot referendum. Their Greyhound Protection Act would ask Seminole County voters if the dog-track owner should be required to disclose greyhound injuries and the race dogs be licensed by the county. It also would require the kennel club to report on what happens to the dogs after their racing careers are over.

With the Seminole backdrop, as WFTV reported earlier this year, “Nationally, and across Florida, greyhound racing is not nearly as popular as it once was. … At … tracks across the state, the dogs run so the tracks can keep their gambling licenses for simulcast and poker.” 

In an op-ed piece ran by the Orlando Sentinel, one of the individuals who helped gather signature for the petition outline the issues facing the dogs and what the ballot initiative strives to protect them from:

I cannot describe the sense of achievement we both felt when our all-volunteer campaign announced it had collected 14,000 signatures, more than enough to advance to the November ballot. It’s important, because there are serious animal-welfare problems at Sanford Orlando Kennel Club, as revealed through Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation records and industry documents.

In my opinion, Sanford Orlando Kennel Club is a low-end track where dogs go when they cannot compete elsewhere. It uses roughly 700 greyhounds, and these dogs race every five days on average. The rest of the time, greyhounds endure lives of confinement, kept in a warehouse-style kennel compound, in stacked metal cages, for up to 23 hours per day.

According to state records, 28 greyhounds have died at the track since May 2013. For example, on April 20, a 2-year-old dog named Queen Jewel died after she fell and suffered an open fracture. Young dogs like Queen Jewel are dying needlessly for a gambling enterprise that is failing economically. Betting peaked at Sanford Orlando in 1988, and since then has dropped by 69 percent.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


New Poll Shows Florida Voters Overwhelmingly Support Voter Choice In Gambling Expansion Matters

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to help ensure the people of Florida have the ability to directly impact gambling expansion. Recent efforts have centered around a ballot initiative that would amend the constitution to require a vote of the people before any gambling expansion legislation can be pushed forward by the legislature. Voters in Charge, the group responsible for the petition, have secured the signatures to keep the process moving forward the bill is not before the Florida Supreme Court to ensure it meets the proper requirements. As the process moves forward, its important to know how well the amendment would do on the ballot, and a new poll aims to answer that questions.   The poll results, released by No Casinos and conducted by Hill Research Consultants, was outlined by Orlando Politics Online: 

– 69% support a referendum requiring voter approval of all gambling expansion decisions. Such a referendum, the Voter Control of Gambling Amendment, currently is before the Florida Supreme Court for placement on the 2018 ballot. Only 21% oppose it.

– 83% believe that Florida voters should decide gambling policy in Florida. By comparison, 7% believe the Florida Legislature should decide, 3% believe the Governor should decide and 3% believe the courts should decide.

– 72% indicated they would be less likely to support a political candidate who supports expanded gambling in Florida without a statewide vote. By contrast, 18% are more likely to support such a candidate and 6% say it makes no difference.

– 75% disagree that more gambling in their city will improve the quality of life for them or their families, while 18% believe more gambling improves their quality of life.

The poll was directed at actual Florida voters who voted in recent elections. The margin for error was under four percent, so the implications are pretty clear. No Casino’s President, John Sowinski, summarized:

“The will of the voters could not be clearer,’’ said John Sowinski, President of No Casinos. “Regardless of political party, Floridians overwhelmingly want a say in whether gambling will be expanded in our state. They understand the negative social and economic consequences. This is why the gaming industry continually tries to circumvent public opinion, hiring lobbyists and lawyers to push their agenda of more and more gambling in the Legislature and courts. Elected officials should take heed — it is not only good public policy, it is also smart politics to reject expanding gambling in Florida.”

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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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