High stakes: Amendment 3 will make or break gambling in Florida

With the fiercely-contested midterm elections taking place later today, there is one proposed constitutional amendment in Florida that could make or break the prospect of sports betting and casino gambling in the southeastern state.

Proposing to give voters “the exclusive right to decide whether to authorise casino gambling”, Constitutional Amendment 3 has polarised Floridians.

Mike Thomas is a spokesman for Voters in Charge, a group that collected more than a million signatures to have Amendment 3 placed on the ballot. As reported by Northwest Florida Daily News, the group has argued that passing Amendment 3 would return the decision making process on gambling to the source of its origins.

“For more than 35 years, voters had to approve gambling expansion decisions in Florida. This ensured there was a full, public debate on an issue of critical importance to Florida’s future. The Tallahassee politicians ended the voting requirement after 2004 and took over gambling decisions, reaping a windfall in political contributions as a result,” Thomas explained.

“Since 2004, gambling legislation crafted behind closed doors with lobbyists has taken control of the legislative process. Returning gambling decisions to voters removes the corrupting influence of gambling money from Tallahassee, ensures an open and transparent vetting of gambling decisions and restores a right to Florida voters that never should have been taken from them.”

In contrast, Gambling.com CEO Charles Gillespie penned an opinion piece entitled ‘Amendment 3 is a Bad Bet for Florida’ on his site last week. In it, he stated: “While Amendment 3 proponents claim it is about voter empowerment, it effectively takes advantage of a fractured statewide electorate to unnecessarily hinder Florida’s economic prospects in the gaming industry.

“It is a radical departure from the way such issues have been treated throughout Florida’s history, resulting in a total relinquishment of legislative and local control. Whether or not you think gaming should have a place in Florida, Amendment 3 sets a troublesome precedent for the state’s ability to broaden its economic horizons.

“The idea of requiring a statewide vote, not just a simple majority, but a supermajority, in order to adopt city or county-specific projects and initiatives should give educated voters pause. Should Tampa residents’ ability to decide what is best for their city be left in the hands of voters in the Miami area? Should Key West have their economic tool chest hindered by what folks in the panhandle think about gaming?”

When the stakes are this high, it’s little surprise that opinions are so fierce. Thankfully, we only have a matter of hours to wait before finding out whether or not the Amendment has been passed.

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