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Amendment 3

Voter Control of Gambling in Florida

This amendment puts the right to decide whether to allow casino gambling solely in the hands of voters. It wouldn’t apply to tribal lands.

Right now, the state legislature is also able to approve gambling facilities (which is what happened earlier this year right here in Miami, when the state approved a gambling facility in Edgewater. More on that below).

The amendment, which was put on the ballot via a petition by voters (that was heavily bankrolled), reads:

This amendment ensures that Florida voters shall have the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling by requiring that in order for casino gambling to be authorized under Florida law, it must be approved by Florida voters pursuant to Article XI, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution. Affects articles X and XI. Defines casino gambling and clarifies that this amendment does not conflict with federal law regarding state/tribal compacts. The amendment’s impact on state and local government revenues and costs, if any, cannot be determined at this time because of its unknown effect on gambling operations that have not been approved by voters through a constitutional amendment proposed by a citizens’ initiative petition process.

This amendment is a complicated one. It’s backed by a group called “Voters in Charge,” which is funded mostly by the Seminole Tribe and Disney. As you probably know, the Seminole Tribe kind of has a monopoly on the gambling industry in the state right now. (For the anonymous reader who asked us, “Who is behind Amendment 3, supporters or opponents of expanding casinos?,” there’s your answer.)

Putting future gambling decisions in the hands of voters would slow the process for allowing new facilities way down, and might even halt it entirely, since residents tend to be opposed to gambling facilities in their backyard. That means less competition for the Seminole Tribe. Disney is in on this because it’s long been opposed to expanding gambling in the state. So, essentially, this is an anti-competition move by them.

But a specific gambling facility could still be approved with a constitutional amendment via citizen’s initiative, which could be bankrolled by interested parties, just like this one was. And then you have voters across the entire state making a decision that affects one particular community. 

You’ve probably been bombarded with ads opposed to this amendment saying that Amendment 3 is “bad for schools,” which probably seems pretty strange considering gambling and education don’t seem to have much to do with each other. These ads are coming from the gambling industry.  Some money from the lottery and gambling industry has gone to education in the past.

Miamians are probably particularly interested in this amendment this year because earlier this year the state approved the construction of a casino in Edgewater, on Biscayne Boulevard between 29th and 31st Streets. Residents and several prominent developers and philanthropists are opposed to the casino, and the City of Miami is fighting it. They’re all pretty upset this was approved without any local input.

Phew. It’s all pretty complicated.

If you vote yes, you are putting decisions on gambling facilities solely in the hands of voters, although not only the local voters affected by the facility, but voters across the entire state. 

If you vote no, you are continuing to allow legislators to make the decision.