Floridians Fight Back Against Gambling Expansion Effort
Around 100 Florida residents recently took part in a rally against a gambling expansion involving the Seminole Tribe.
An effort to expand gambling in the state of Florida via a new compact with the Seminole Tribe is meeting some resistance. While lawmakers move the deal forward, some residents have come out against the effort during a recent rally at the state capitol. On Tuesday, around 100 people were in attendance at the capitol, holding signs saying, “No More Casinos!” and stating the effort is unconstitutional.
Voter Rights Concerns
Those in attendance are worried that voters rights are being sidestepped in the effort to bring new gambling options to the state. Back in 2018, voters approved a constitutional amendment that now requires the state to have residents vote on changes regarding any gambling additions.
Lawmakers are currently in a special session to move the gambling expansion package forward. The Seminole Tribe and Governor Ron DeSantis were able to sign a deal that would extend the tribe’s compact 30 years and give them more gambling options.
The House is expected to vote on the measure today, which has led residents to try and stop the effort. Many feel that the voters should be able to approve the deal before it can move forward based on the constitutional change from just a few years ago.
Those who are against the compact are hopeful that the House will reject the measure. People attending the rally were encouraged to visit the offices of lawmakers and ask them to vote against the deal.
Keep Florida Family Friendly
Many residents are worried that families will be negatively impacted from the expansion. The tribe would be allowed to offer new gaming options like craps and roulette at its casinos. They would also be able to provide sports betting. Pari-mutuel facilities will also be given the same opportunity to provide sports betting services.
Those opposed feel that more gambling options will impact poor communities in the state in a negative manner. Florida Family Action president and attorney John Stemberger said that with slot gaming, the state will be offering the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’.
Others feel that children and families of low-income will be affected. Individuals stated at the rally that those who can the least afford to gamble will be the ones lining the pockets of the casinos. Many feel that the poor in Florida are only getting poorer and this will harm the community even further.
A Profitable Industry
With an expansion of casino services as well as the addition of sports betting, Florida would be set to earn quite a bit by way of revenues. It has been estimated that the expansion will bring at minimum, $2.5 billion to the state in a five-year time frame.
Those in opposition hope that if the legislation passed and the compact is approved, that the funds will at least go the people in the state that need help. Those in attendance say that they want to make sure the money is used in a fair and equitable manner.
The lawmakers who are in favor of the compact can see just how profitable that industry will be. The tribe and the governor say that compact is not unconstitutional because the online sports betting servers will be located on reservation lands. But is that enough to fight a legal battle if it comes down to it?
Will the opponents who feel the constitution is being threatened due to the 2018 amendment take legal action? It is really unclear at this point. Basically, the lawmakers need to be as sure as they can that the deal will be able to hold its ground if a legal battle were to take place. We shall see over the coming days how the House votes and if the compact is able to move forward or face more opposition.