This time, polling finds strong voter support for Seminole Compact

Floridians really like the deal when they hear about economic possibilities.

Florida voters are overwhelmingly supportive of the Seminole Compact for gambling in Florida, according to a recent poll commissioned by the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association in cooperation with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

The poll’s conclusions clash with those of one conducted and released by the anti-gambling No Casinos organization last week.

The new poll, conducted by the Tyson Group in the first week of May, found 62% of likely Florida voters are in favor of the deal, and only 17% are opposed.

The pollster also read statements about the terms of the compact and found that as voters learned more about the benefits they became more likely to support it.

Nearly three-quarters of those polled said they would be more likely to support the deal after they were told “profits generated by the Seminole Tribe are invested back into the state by creating thousands of jobs and billions more in economic impact.”

A similar number were more open to the idea after the pollster told them that the Gaming Compact would $2.5 billion in payments to the state over the next five years and a projected $6 billion by 2030.

After receiving the information, overall support grew to 65%, with 38% saying they were definite supporters compared to 33% whose support was locked in on the initial question. Among voters who think improving the state economy is the state’s biggest priority, support increased from 66% to 71%.

That’s almost a complete flip from the numbers No Casinos reported from its poll conducted a few days earlier, which found 66% of voters concluding the deal is “blatantly unconstitutional” in Florida and only 15% believing otherwise.

The Florida Legislature will take it up in a Special Session starting next Monday.

Under the 75-page compact and the various bills being hammered into readiness, the Seminole Tribe of Florida would add the table games of craps and roulette to their casinos and run all sports betting in Florida, including online. The state of Florida would receive “revenue sharing” from the Tribe of at least $2.5 billion over the first five years and at least $500 million a year over the course of the 30-year agreement. More than two dozen nontribal slot-machine and card game rooms would be allowed to decouple their game rooms from pari-mutuel betting.

No Casino’s poll, conducted April 29-May 2, found 72% said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate for the Legislature who wants voters to decide the issue.

The Restaurants and Lodging Association poll, taken May 1-5, found 46% said they were more likely to reelect their state legislator if they vote to approve this compact, and just 20% said they were less likely.

“The Compact will not just benefit the Seminole Tribe and Florida’s state revenue, it will bring a much-needed boost in Florida tourism — Florida’s economic engine — which recorded its lowest year in more than a decade in 2020, and it will also bring thousands of jobs for Florida’s hospitality industry,” FRLA President Carol Dover said in a news release. “We believe that the new casino games will not conflict with Florida’s family-friendly image, which is especially important in Central Florida, as the new casino table games are limited to Seminole Reservations where casino gaming already takes place. Florida’s tourism and hospitality industry is working to rebuild after a devastating year, and we strongly support this Gaming Compact and our friends in the Seminole Tribe who have continued to demonstrate their commitment to the well-being of our great state.”

The association points out that since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, more than 934,000 of Florida’s 1.5 million hospitality workers were furloughed or laid off. More than 10,000 restaurants closed, and hotels have shuttered. Many hotels still remain on the brink of closure as business travel remains down more than 85%, the association reports.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].

One comment

  • sonny carmichael

    May 14, 2021 at 11:22 am

    Create thousands of jobs??? Where? It’s all on computers. Total BS. Polls mean absolutely nothing since it doesnt actually poll everyone. Poll taking is selective and only done in very small numbers. If you ask 10 people their thoughts and 8 say yes and 2 say no then the poll taker says 80% of the public agrees which is false. 10 people do not speak for 10 million within the state. Stop with the lies it is getting very old and no one listens to polls anymore. it’s played out..

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