Vote 'No' on Amendment 3
If Amendment 3 passes, the Legislature would lose the ability to approve any further expansion of casino-style gambling in Florida, including sports betting. There are some big names behind this amendment. Disney Worldwide Services, the political arm of the mammoth Walt Disney Company, has opened its coffers in support.
There are reasons, however, to approach a sweeping prohibition like this with caution. One of them is swirling toward the Gulf of Mexico right now. With big storm after big storm battering Florida, it's easy to foresee a time when lawmakers run out of options — and money — to meet the state's most critical needs. This takes a big opportunity off the table. Gambling already generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for the state, including $280 million this year from the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which operates six casinos across the state.
The relationship between the tribe and the state is best summed up as “complicated.” For years, the tribal gaming compact was seen as a gentleman's agreement between Seminole leaders and lawmakers — if the Legislature didn't push for other forms of gaming, the tribe would continue to be generous with payments.
But if Amendment 3 passes, “there's nothing left to negotiate for,” says Mike Scudiero, an Ormond Beach based consultant who has worked on gaming issues. This amendment is likely to give the tribe a near-monopoly on games of chance in the state, while shutting down the possibility of negotiating other forms of gambling for anyone. On balance, it's not hard to see why the Seminole Tribe is enthusiastically, though quietly, backing Amendment 3.
The idea of voter control sounds attractive, and there are sound public-policy arguments against expanding gambling. But Amendment 3 won't make gambling go away; it's already here. Approving this prohibition would require voters to roll the dice that harder times will never force lawmakers to make tough choices like expanding gambling — and that the Seminole Tribe's generosity won't be affected if it gains such a clear upper hand in negotiations. That makes it a bad bet for Florida.
Editorial - 10/9/18 edition