This past May, the Supreme Court’s decision in the landmark case of Murphy v. NCAA paved the way for states to legalize certain forms of sports betting within their borders. The Supreme Court’s ruling provided an opportunity for states to regulate and tax gambling activities – which the Court reasoned was likely already taking place illicitly. Many states, including Delaware, New Jersey, New Mexico and West Virginia have already passed laws legalizing in-state sports wagers. Other states, including Illinois, Ohio, Maryland, and Louisiana, are quickly following suit with proposed laws that are still making their way through the state legislatures.
Florida’s state house has yet to pass any legislation enabling sports betting in the Sunshine State. However, it appears that this may be due to a more sweeping reform that’s heading its way. Advocates across are supporting a proposed amendment to Florida’s Constitution that would allow for casino gambling across the state. If it passes, we may see a major change in gambling tourism across the country.
Casino gambling is currently prohibited at all non-tribal gaming facilities in all but two counties in the State of Florida. Florida Amendment 3 is on this year’s ballot as a proposed constitutional amendment that may change this structure entirely. The Amendment was originally placed on the ballot to give voters the right to decide whether or not to authorize casino gambling in the state. Specifically, the amendment creates a statewide approval process for casino-style games, including. slot machines, card games, and table games.
Amendment 3 was listed on the upcoming ballot much as a result of the Republican-dominated legislature’s inability to agree on comprehensive gambling packages in recent years. Legislators have reviewed policy proposals from national and international operators for resorts, lodges, and gambling establishments, all of whom believed legalized gaming could greatly boost the local economy and provide more job opportunities. But it appears that this year, gaming reform will be up to Florida’s voters to decide.
Needless to say, legalizing casino gambling in one of the nation’s largest tourist economies would be a huge boom to local businesses. However, an amendment to Florida’s Constitution requires a 60% supermajority in order to pass. In order to help make sure it goes through, supporters of Amendment 3 are performing voter outreach and advocacy campaigns.
The committee behind the ballot initiative, “Voters in Charge”, has spent more than $31 million on their efforts to support the Amendment. Notably, however, the top three contributors to the group were Disney World Services Inc., the Seminole Tribe, and No Casinos INC.. So, needless to say, Amendment 3’s supporters largely come from the business community. But at the end of the day, Florida’s voters will have to decide their state’s gaming future for themselves.
Criticizers of the amendment believe that it may hurt local betting agencies, even causing some to go out of business. Other groups, including the League of Woman Voters of Florida, have expressed concern that Amendment 3 could cause social issues that the state isn’t prepared for. The differences in pundits’ opinions aside, the people of Florida will decide on statewide gambling reform in November.