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Bestbet doubles down on slots hopes.


Jax Chamber backs bestbet, balks at Amendment 3

Gambling concern bestbet is one of Jacksonville’s most politically connected businesses. Its interests were boosted Thursday when the local Chamber of Commerce weighed in against Amendment 3.

Per a media release, passing the amendment “will eliminate local voter control and could retroactively unauthorize existing gambling, putting hundreds of jobs in Jacksonville at risk.”

The “unnecessary” amendment “erode[s] home rule and weaken the authorities for communities to make decisions on their own,” the release continues.

“This is not an issue that merits an amendment to the Florida Constitution,” JAX Alliance Chair Dan Murphy said. “The cities and counties across Florida all have different needs. Amendment 3 requires the entire state to weigh in on local matters and this is bad policy for Florida.”

Bestbet President Jamie Shelton has been vocal about this issue also.

“Amendment 3 has been put on the ballot by the Seminole Indians (who have the casinos under federal law in South Florida) and Disney (which wants to limit any competition in Florida). They are both trying to use the amendment process to eliminate and prevent competition in Florida,” Shelton wrote in a recent letter to employees.

“A vote NO is best for Florida and does not reward the narrow special interests of Disney and the Seminole Indians at the expense of everyone else,” Shelton adds.

Shelton and bestbet play aggressively in Jacksonville politics, with contributions to more incumbents than not. Shelton’s wife Ali Korman Shelton worked for Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry in a senior role early in his administration.

Shelton’s most ambitious spend: $2 million on a referendum to bring slot machines to bestbet.

Though the referendum carried, the state denied bestbet’s desire to add slots months later.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades, with bylines in national and local publications alike on subjects ranging from pop music to national and global politics. Gancarski has been a correspondent for since 2014, and has held a column in Jacksonville, Florida's Folio Weekly for two decades. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." Gancarski is a frequent presence on Jacksonville television and radio, including fill-in slots on WJCT-FM's award-winning talk show "First Coast Connect." He can be reached at

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