Amendment 3: Voter Control of Gambling in Florida

On the general election ballot in November, Amendment 3: Voter Control of Gambling in Florida, is not as controversial as it may seem.

If the amendment passes, control of gambling in the Sunshine State will be returned to voters.

FloridaWins.org summarized it this way:

Approval of this amendment ensures that Florida voters shall have the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling by requiring that in order for casino gambling to be authorized under Florida law, it must be approved by Florida voters pursuant to Article XI, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution. Affects articles X and XI. Defines casino gambling and clarifies that this amendment does not conflict with federal law regarding state/tribal compacts.

Voters in Charge, the sponsor of the amendment, says that Tallahassee politicians and lobbyists have been deciding the fate of casino-style gambling for far too long. This amendment will put the gambling industry in the hands of Floridians.

For nearly a century, approval of casino gambling was strictly left for voters to decide.  Amendment 3 simply seeks to return to that standard to authorize casino gambling.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce supports Amendment 3. Protecting Florida’s unique quality of life is essential to maintaining our state’s family-friendly brand.

For more than two decades, the Florida Chamber has opposed the expansion of Las Vegas-style casino gambling, and believes the passage of Amendment 3 will further protect Florida’s sense of place and community.

Learn more about the Amendment 3 at Voters in Charge, or at Florida Wins to learn more about the other constitutional amendments.

Say “NO” to Gambling Expansion

 

Mega-Casinos Are a Bad Bet for Florida

 

Why It Matters to Florida

Florida has much to offer its current and future residents, and visitors. However, our state’s unique quality of life is constantly under attack from special interests. Ensuring Florida remains the best place to live, work, and play has been a top priority for the Florida Chamber for the last 100 years. This means focusing on affordable housing, stopping the expansion of Las Vegas-style casinos, breaking the cycle of generational poverty, and embracing cost-saving adaptations to Florida’s healthcare system.

Florida’s Competitiveness Agenda

Florida needs more engineers, physicians, and teachers — not blackjack dealers. The Florida Chamber will continue fighting to protect Florida’s family-friendly brand by opposing the expansion of Las Vegas-style casino gambling. There are countless examples of states that have been lulled into a false sense of economic safety by mega casinos, only to discover their reputation has waned, their high-skilled workers have left or their businesses can no longer afford to do business in their state. Florida continues to top lists as the nation’s premier place to visit, live, work, learn and play. We must continue to focus our attention on growing private sector jobs and keeping an attractive business-friendly economy.

The Fight for Free Enterprise

At the Florida Chamber, we will continue to stay strong against continued efforts from around the world, which seek to devour Florida’s economy and family-friendly reputation by expanding Las Vegas-style casino gambling in Florida. By supporting innovation and families over special interest agendas, and working toward goals that help secure Florida’s future, Florida will become more than a “reward for a life well lived somewhere else” and will instead be the number one choice for talent.

Act Now

Help us protect Florida’s reputation as the best place to visit, live and work by contacting us today and sharing in our fight for a robust free-enterprise system.

House-Proposed Gaming Compact Protects Florida’s Family-Friendly Brand

For over twenty years, the Florida Chamber has been opposed to the expansion of gambling in Florida, especially “Las Vegas-style” casinos, as we believe it is contrary to our family friendly brand and not the type of economic development our state needs. It is the Florida Chamber’s belief that a renewed state compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida is the best way to limit the expansion of gambling in the state, by containing it to tribal lands. We must continue to protect Florida’s unique economy and long term potential growth by rejecting any further expansion of gambling in our state.

The Florida Chamber supports House Bill 7037 and its sponsor, Representative Mike LaRosa, for holding strong against any further expansion of gambling in Florida. The House’s bill stands in contrast to Senate Bill 8, which is sponsored by Senator Bill Galvano and calls for a vast expansion of slot machines and gaming. Both the House and Senate gambling bills were passed out of their respective committees last week. SB 8’s next stop is the Senate floor, whereas HB 7037 has not received its next committee reference yet.

As it has for more than two decades, the Florida Chamber will continue fighting to protect our family-friendly brand by opposing the expansion of Las Vegas-style casino gambling, as is done in SB 8, while continuing to advocate for a renewed Seminole Gaming Compact, as is done in HB 7037.

 

Take Action Now

Click here for more information on the Florida Chamber’s 20-year opposition to gambling expansion in Florida, or contact me at bhunt@flchamber.com.

Capitol Update: Seminole Compact and Gaming

The Florida Legislature gathered for its first week of committee meetings in the New Year this week. Two gaming-related conversations were set to occur, but the Senate Regulated industries Committee cancelled their Wednesday, January 11, 2017, meeting, leaving only House Tourism and Gaming Control Subcommittee’s panel discussion on the Seminole Compact.

The panel discussion featured:

  • State Economist, Amy Baker,
  • Jonathan Zachem, Deputy Secretary, Department of Business & Professional Regulation, and
  • C. Jason Maine, General Counsel, Department of Business & Professional Regulation.

For over twenty years, the Florida Chamber has been opposed to the expansion of gambling in Florida, especially Las Vegas style casinos, as we believe they are contrary to our family friendly brand and not the type of economic development we need.

Additionally, the Florida Chamber supports a renewed state compact with the Seminole Tribe because that is the best way to limit the expansion of gambling in Florida and contain it to tribal lands.

Included in the House Tourism and Gaming Control Subcommittee’s meeting packet was a list of “anticipated major policy issues,” which included:

  • Seminole Gaming Compact,
  • Voter Control of Gambling Expansion,
  • Slot Machine Gaming,
  • Decoupling of Live Racing or Games,
  • Designated Player Card Games, and
  • Daily Fantasy Sports.

Additionally, Senator Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton) briefed Florida Chamber Board members in town for the Leadership Fly-In on his perspectives regarding a number of issues, including potential gaming legislation, that could come before the Legislature this session. Late yesterday afternoon, Senator Galvano filed gaming legislation in the Senate, details of which can be found here.

The Florida Chamber will continue to provide you with regular updates on gaming-related issues.

Learn More:

This week, the Florida Chamber released its 2017 Competitiveness Agenda, which outlines our specific policy positions on gaming and more.

Keep Florida Summers Alive- Don’t Bet on Gambling

Local businesses open and filled with customers, children and families enjoying white sand beaches, full hotel rooms- that’s a good summer vacation in Destin. In fact, for many of Florida’s coastal towns that rely on visitors and tourism, that’s a good year. According to Visit Florida, more than 97 million visitors came to our state last year. For Florida, that number signifies jobs, growth and competitiveness, and comes from the multi-faceted efforts of local communities and chambers of commerce, and organizations like the Florida Chamber, Enterprise Florida and VISIT FLORIDA.

But our state hasn’t just garnered attention from visitors around the world- it has also earned a bulls-eye from mega Las Vegas-style casinos seeking to expand into our state.

In Destin, we want to keep Florida summers alive. That’s why we join the Florida Chamber in opposing Las Vegas- style casinos.

Las Vegas-style mega casinos promised once thriving coastal communities a boost to their economies and made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. But facts are, as we know, stubborn things. A look at the blighted economy of Atlantic City provides all the insight we need as to why expanding Las Vegas-style casinos in Florida is a bad bet- thousands of jobs lost, millions lost in revenue, countless casinos closing. And in the wake of this downfall? A coastal town that once treasured their summers.

On November 28, 2011, our board of directors passed a resolution opposing the expansion of gambling in Florida.  We stand by that position today.  In November 2013, I was proud to stand before Senate President Don Gaetz and his committee on gaming to express our chamber’s concerns about and opposition to the expansion of gambling in our great state.

We cannot let Florida go the way of Atlantic City. We hope you will join us and the Florida Chamber in opposing the expansion of Las Vegas-style gambling.

 

Written by Shane A. Moody, CCE, FCCP, President & CEO, Destin Area Chamber of Commerce

Leading Capitol Reporters Gary Fineout and Tia Mitchell Provide Session Update Water, Special Session, Budget, Healthcare and Gambling on The Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line

Tia Mitchell, State House Bureau Chief with The Florida Times Union, and Gary Fineout, Capitol Press Corp Reporter with the Associated Press, join the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line to give their perspective on Florida’s 2015 Legislative Session. From healthcare issues to the possibility of a special session, Mitchell and Fineout discuss the issues that matter.

 

The Midway Point Assessment:

Gary:

“We haven’t really done very much. There’s a big divide in a lot of places, particularly in the healthcare arena and on the budget. Frankly, as anyone’s whose watched this process knows, the budget is sort of the grease that gets the gears to turn. And as long as there is a big sort of, conundrum, with the budget, it kind of affects the progress of the session. Essentially we are here at the midway point and they’ve only passed, really both sides, have only passed one substantial bill… overall, there’s a lot that has not yet been done.”

On Florida’s Budget:

Tia:

“If you believe what they say, you have to couch that, because again, this is a little bit of posturing, but I do kind of believe what they say, mainly because the House has said for three years straight that they do not want to use federal dollars to expand Medicaid. So you can believe that they really don’t want to do it and that they are dug into that and so far, there has been no compelling reason from the Senate to make them change their mind. But what’s different this year is the Senate says it’s really dug in. Before, the Senate would say ‘hey, we want to expand Medicaid, we did it on our side, they wouldn’t do it on the other side’ and just shrugged it off. This year the Senate is saying ‘no, we think it needs to be done, it’s our highest priority.’ And that’s really different this year.”

On the Possibility of a Special Session:

Gary:

“I see someone is going to have a fairly major retreat, in order for things to be worked out. it’s not that that’s not possible between now and the end of the session but it just doesn’t seem that’s where we’re going. The situation is basically, when you have a top person in the House, which is the budget chairman Richard Corcoran, when you have him get up on the floor and give a passionate speech defending their positions saying that one chamber cannot dictate to anther chamber, that kind of affects the pace and where things will go into the future.”

On Water and Amendment 1:

Tia:

“I think the water debate; the policy is progressing pretty well- they are working on implementing Amendment 1. I see two things happening. I think the environmentalists that pushed Amendment 1 are going to not be happy at the end of the day, because they want much more money spent on purchasing conservation land and the Amendment 1 dollars are going to be spread out for various water issues, various water projects, that don’t all fit under what the Amendment 1 supporters really wanted. The actual projects are going to be a part of the budget debate,  and so we don’t know yet exactly what they are going to use Amendment 1 dollars, the specific projects, but I think there’s going to be a lot more variety than perhaps what the conservation groups would like.

On Healthcare:

Gary:

“I think we can all agree. I think the House as already expressed the thought that they want to do something about access to care. It would not surprise me if the House, as a result of all of this, pushes ahead with several of those issues, especially the scope of practice and nurse practitioners bill. They might want to try to package them all as ‘this is our answer to how to deal with healthcare. And we don’t think that we need to do what you’ve offered in terms of the Medicaid alternative expansion plan that the Senate has crafted, instead we think you should do these other things to improve access.’ And we’ve heard a little bit about that, we’ve heard about the graduate medical education and increasing the number of doctors and things of that nature, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that becomes a part of the mix when all of this is said and done. And as you know, again, Richard Corcoran, the budget chief for the House, has made it abundantly clear that we need to quote ‘challenge the status quo.’ So I can see all of that becoming part of that dynamic and eh dialogue between now and the end of session.”

On Gambling:

Gary:

“I think at this point in time, the main outcome that I could foresee possibly, and I still don’t know if this is guaranteed, is something that just simply allows the status quo to continue as is. I think the Senate has showed that it is potentially interested in that dynamic. In other words passing something that merely says the existing compact kind of stays in place a little while longer.  Is it a year, is it two years, I don’t know the answer to that . But I think you’ve seen the Senate warming up to that. So what does that mean for the House bill? I mean, the House bill still hasn’t passed one committee yet…So I think at this point in time it is kind of hard to imagine that we would have a major gambling bill get passed this year, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think that something still can’t happen between now and May 1.”

 

Tia:

“I just think that the House’s gambling bill, people just thought it was dead on arrival because there’s just so much in it so there’s so much for people to hate. You’ve got the greyhound industry, doesn’t like decoupling- that’s in the bill. You have Disney and the Restaurant and Lodging Association, don’t want destination resorts- that’s in the bill. You have the Seminole Indians, don’t want the compact to go away- that’s in the bill. So there’s so much opposition to that House proposal because it’s so heavy, it’s just kind of sinking under its own weight.”

 

Florida Chamber’s Mark Wilson Testifies Against Expansion of Gambling

Urges Lawmakers to Stay Focused on High-Wage, High-Skill Jobs

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (March 26, 2015) – Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Wilson today delivered the below remarks opposing the expansion of Las Vegas-style casino gambling to the House Regulatory Affairs Committee during a workshop on gambling legislation.

“Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, thank you for your time this morning, and for listening to all sides. Leader Young, thank you for putting this discussion in play. I’m Mark Wilson, President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

“At the Florida Chamber, our focus is to make Florida more competitive in the short term, and to help secure Florida’s future over the long term.

“For more than 20 years, the Florida Chamber has opposed the expansion of Las Vegas-style gambling. Florida already has limited gambling; residents and visitors can already gamble. We’re not arguing to do away with all gambling in Florida, we’re here to oppose the EXPANSION of Las Vegas-style gambling.

“We believe Florida should direct its focus on creating high-wage, high-skill jobs – more engineers…more manufacturers…not more blackjack dealers.

“When it comes to Florida’s economy, everyone knows the news is good.

“The debate over the expansion of gambling sometimes takes focus away from important competitiveness issues.

“You have already eliminated or improved nearly 3,000 regulations. You’ve lowered taxes nearly 40 times, and you are working on more. Your education reforms are working. And you’ve passed comprehensive water policy.

“Florida is growing by over 800 new residents each day. In fact, we estimate we’ll add 280,000 new residents and 250,000 new jobs this year.

“So here’s the bottom line…Florida doesn’t need Las Vegas-style casinos. The truth is, the big foreign and out-of-state casinos need Florida.

“Florida’s brand is known around the world. We’re known as a family-friendly place to visit, and now we’re known for our jobs and economic opportunity.

“Now is not the time to change course.

“There have been plenty of studies on gambling – with a CENTRAL study coming from the gambling industry. It says that gambling won’t work in locations with an already established tourism market like Florida.

“When casinos were introduced to Atlantic City, 40 percent of restaurants and approximately 30 percent of retail shut down.  Nevada — with all of its casinos – has led the nation in unemployment, foreclosures, violent crime, and personal bankruptcy

“When out-of-state and foreign casino operators brought their expansion proposals to Florida a few years ago, the Florida Chamber was the first statewide organization to come out against their efforts.

“Since then, many others have joined the Florida Chamber in opposing the expansion of gambling, including:

  • The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association,
  • The Florida Retail Federation,
  • The Florida Sheriff’s Association,
  • Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi,
  • Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater,
  • Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, and
  • Newspaper editorial boards across Florida…

“As I said, Florida is on the right track. We don’t need the Las Vegas-style casinos industry, they need Florida.

“The best way to help secure Florida’s future is to stay the course, and don’t bet Florida’s future on a gimmick that has never worked in an already established market like Florida.

“Members, I’ve been advocating for job creation and economic development for decades.

“I’ve not ever seen a single economic development plan that suggests gambling is a good way to go.

“I would encourage you to protect Florida from the expansion of Las Vegas-style gambling.

“Again, thank you for helping us secure Florida’s future.”

###

Expansion of Casino Gambling Draws Dire Warnings, Praise

By Scott Powers, Orlando Sentinel

If Florida increases its bet on gambling, the wager will ride on whether new casinos could become economic engines as in Baltimore, or economic vacuums as in Atlantic City.

That was the central argument in a debate over gambling during a Florida Forward forum sponsored in downtown Orlando on Tuesday by the Orlando Sentinel.

Atlantic City’s economic demise was caused by decades of Democrat rule and astronomical taxes. The casinos just delayed it a few decades.

Opponents, notably No Casinos Inc. President John Sowinski, argued that many new casinos have sucked vitality out of communities by drawing dollars away from existing restaurants, hotels and attractions. And he held up Atlantic City’s economic demise, with recent widespread casino failures, as a frightening cautionary tale.

Supporters, notably Geoff Freeman, president of the American Gaming Association, argued that many new casinos that are more wisely planned and regulated, as in Baltimore and Ohio, have been boons to their cities’ economies and could serve as role models for any Florida expansion.

The casino issue is reemerging because Florida’s five-year compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida expires this summer. It allows the tribe lucrative, exclusive rights for its seven tribal-land casinos, in exchange for more than $130 million in annual fees.

A renegotiated contract could open up what other casino operators want — expansion of competition.

Two companies, Las Vegas Sands Corp. and the Genting Group of Malaysia, have publicly pushed for Florida to allow more casinos in South Florida.

“Here’s the bottom line,” said opponent Mark Wilson, president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, “Florida doesn’t need the casino industry. The casino industry … needs Florida.”

There also are eight pari-mutuel betting tracks, all in South Florida, that now operate limited-game casinos and seek more.

“We just want to be on a level playing field,” said Isadore Havernick, vice president of the Magic City Casino in Miami.