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Gambling lobbyist to No Casinos head: You’re a ‘bully’

Gambling lobbyist Marc Dunbar is telling anti-gambling activist John Sowinski to lay his cards on the table.

In an open letter released Thursday, Dunbar says Sowinski – president of No Casinos – has “declared war on (the gambling) industry, and in turn our economy, with a proposed constitutional amendment which you now have finally and publicly disclosed is intended to ban retroactively many forms of legal gambling in the state.”

Sowinski also chairs Voters In Charge, the political committee behind the proposed “Voter Control of Gambling” constitutional amendment, also known as “Amendment 3,” on the November ballot.   

The idea behind the amendment is to give statewide voters sole authority to approve future expansions of gambling in the state.

But Sowinski earlier this week sent his own letter to lawmakers that “revenue estimators, the Florida Supreme Court and even the gambling industry’s own legal experts agree that the voter approval requirements of Amendment 3 could be applied to any expansion you might now approve.” Legislative leadership had been considering a Special Session on gambling.

“In other words, you must assume that legislation to expand gambling now may be overturned in November with voter approval of Amendment 3,” Sowinski wrote.

Dunbar, in turn, said “this quest to retroactively outlaw legal operations could eliminate large segments of an industry that has contributed billions of dollars to Florida’s economy.”

“Your lack of candor with state economists, lawmakers and even the Florida Supreme Court regarding the true motives behind your proposal (raises) the question whether you similarly respect the rights of Floridians to make an informed decision regarding your proposed Amendment and gambling within their communities,” Dunbar added. 

It is clearly time to meet in the public square and have a candid and truthful dialogue about Amendment 3 and your group’s desired impacts. I am hopeful that this dialogue will allow voters across Florida to make an informed decision on Amendment 3 when they go to the polls in November.”

The Voters In Charge Twitter account later Thursday posted in response, “Nice try, Marc Dunbar. Your letter makes the same misguided arguments you made in front of the Florida Supreme Court. They didn’t work then. They won’t work now.”

And the No Casinos account tweeted, “BREAKING: Gambling lobbyist/pari-mutuel owner doesn’t like Amendment 3 (@VotersInCharge) which puts Florida voters in control of casino gambling decisions (not Mr. Dunbar) #shocker”

Dunbar’s full letter and the tweets are below.

Written By

Jim Rosica covers state government from Tallahassee for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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