Jake Banks | 26 Jan 2018

Florida Voting on New Gambling BallotIn the US state of Florida, an opposition group against the legalisation of gambling has now revealed that it has gathered enough signatures to have a dedicated ballot initiative put before local voters at the state’s next midterm elections later this year.

Florida’s Sun-Sentinel newspaper has reported that the Voters in Charge organisation (VIC) now have well over 800,000 signatures to convince state officials to holds its Voter Control of Gambling Amendment. This amendment, which has also come to be known as Amendment 3, was included in last year’s ballot on November 6.

If the issue is again included in the upcoming ballot and received support from 60% or more of Florida’s voters, it has been reported that the Voter Control of Gambling Amendment would force lawmakers to obtain an ‘identical majority’ in polls before it can ratify any expanded gambling legislation in the future.

Florida’s Future In Voters’ Hands

The Sun-Sentinel also reported that the VIC Group is relying on a somewhat surprising company for the bulk of its funding – the Walt Disney Company itself. However, the initiative also has other backers, with the casino-running Seminole Tribe of Florida also allegedly donating the second-largest chunk of funding to the group.

A statement on the VIC website notes that the Voter Control of Gambling Amendment will ‘put Florida’s future in voters’ hands’ when it comes to the issue of gambling. Gambling interests have obscured the state’s political systems for too long, the statement read, saying that campaign contributions and lobbyists have stood in the way of any real progress.

The Voters in Charge group is now calling supporters to restore the old standard of requiring voters to approve any casino gambling bills or expansions. The news outlet also reported that the VIC revelation came on the same day as the Florida State Senate Regulated Industries Committee’s approval of legislation that would slash slots tax from 35% to just 25%.

Florida House Drafting Gaming Bill

The aforementioned bill would also inadvertently protect daily fantasy sports operators like FanDuel and DraftKings from the state’s current regulations and tax regimes on gambling. The bill’s sponsor, Florida’s State Senator Travis Hutson, explained that the Senate Bill 840 proposal would also make legal ‘designated player’ or ‘banked games’ like Blackjack statewide.

It would also give dog and horseracing tracks the choice to drop their racing offerings while at the same time retaining their slot machines.

The Sun-Sentinel noted that the Republican’s suggestion will come face-to-face with an ‘uphill battle’ to be passed as law. Only a small portion of the bill regarding daily fantasy sports currently has a companion measure in Florida’s House of Representatives. Hutson, who remains optimistic about the matter, revealed that the House of Representatives is presently drafting a bill, and will publicise its contents within the next couple of weeks.

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