This year’s ballot is full of proposed Constitutional amendments — some arguably good, and some bad. A contender for the worst among the bunch: Amendment 3. It is very misleading, and we urge voters not to be fooled.
Upon casual inspection, Amendment 3 does not seem terrible. It purports to let voters decide whether the state expands gambling in any way, in any community and only by a citizen-led initiative. However, what it doesn’t mention is that Amendment 3 only empowers its large, special interest sponsors who stand to personally profit.
The leading supporters behind the Amendment are not exactly ordinary people of Florida—in fact, it’s the Seminole Indian Tribe and another wealthy Florida special interest group, who are both eager for the tribe to hold a monopoly on gambling in the state. Instead of putting “voters in charge,” as the amendment’s supporters claim, it would in fact rewrite the Florida Constitution to protect the tribe’s interests and line their pockets.
It’s understandable that there are folks who do not want gambling in their community. That is why the current process empowers communities to work with their local leaders to determine if, where and how gaming is allowed to occur as one size does not fit all. If approved, Amendment 3 would undercut the ability for local governments and communities to make their own decisions. Even if a local community overwhelmingly wanted additional gaming, the Legislature would be prohibited from abiding by the will of local voters. Instead, the local community would need to put it up for a statewide vote and persuade 60% of Florida voters — from every corner of the state — a costly and expensive process that ironically is often driven more by special interests than anything else. Simply put, why should voters in one corner of the state be able to tell people in another part of the state what they can or cannot do?
We realize gambling isn’t for everyone. Even those who aren’t in favor of gambling stand to lose if Amendment 3 is passed. If approved, we all suffer and so will the education of our children. It would put at risk hundreds of millions of dollars over the next few years which contributes directly to our public education system in Florida. Florida already faces well-documented challenges with education funding — Amendment 3 would make those problems worse. Legalized gambling throughout our state provides hundreds of millions in funding annually. If controlled only by the Seminole Tribe, that amount reduces dramatically.
If Amendment 3 passes, there will be the loss of hundreds of jobs (average salary of $50,000 plus health care benefits) in our community because of the tribe’s ability to control gambling throughout Florida.
Finally, other than negating local control, loss of local jobs, and potentially taking massive amounts of money out of our education system, Amendment 3 also removes the only real leverage the State of Florida has in ensuring that the Seminole Tribe continues revenue sharing pursuant to the gaming compact passed in 2011. Without competitive gaming, Floridians lose the ability to negotiate with the Tribe and enforce the current compact. In the end, that means that the state of Florida will lose additional hundreds of millions of dollars of critical tax dollars in future years funded by gaming establishment established before the Seminole Tribe created casinos in Florida.
Floridians should not be fooled by the false promise of “empowerment”, and instead vote NO on Amendment 3. That’s what we intend to do.
— The Honorable Greg Anderson
— The Honorable Daniel Becton
— The Honorable Lori Boyer
— The Honorable John Crescimbeni
— The Honorable Terrance Freeman
— The Honorable Reginald Gaffney
— The Honorable Bill Gulliford
— The Honorable Tommy Hazouri
— The Honorable Jim Love
— The Honorable Sam Newby
— The Honorable Ju’Coby Pittman
— The Honorable Matt Schellenberg
— The Honorable Randy White
— The Honorable Scott Wilson
Jamie Shelton is the president of bestbet.