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Report: Florida Casino-Resort Authorization Might Depend On Statewide Referendum

Plan Could Make It More Difficult For Commercial Casino-Resorts

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A couple of Florida lawmakers are looking at making it a requirement that any future gambling expansion proposal in the state go before voters. That means that even if a billion-dollar casino was going in Miami, which would be the likely spot if they are ever approved, residents in the Panhandle would have a say. As of right now, they would not.

The idea behind it all is that such mega casino-resorts would dramatically change the nature of Florida. Some consider the state to have a “family friendly” image.

The initiative for making the statewide vote a requirement is being pushed by House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville.

“I think we have seen gaming creep,” Weatherford told the Orlando Sentinel. “The Legislature has not had its hands on the wheel when it comes to the gaming laws of the state of Florida. The idea I’m warming up to, which I think makes a lot of sense, is to give the power back to the people when it comes to gaming expansion.”

Casino-resorts would require 60-percent of the vote, which is called a “supermajority”.

Top casino developers — Genting and Las Vegas Sands Corp. — have been spending lavishly in Florida recently to try and convince lawmakers to OK such investments. Sending the issue to voters might make the task even more difficult and require an expensive campaign to woo the public. A statewide referendum could also slow down the whole process.

Referendums for massive increases in gambling do pass, though. In 2012, Maryland voters signed off on the legislature’s plan to legalize table games and add another casino.

In addition to massive new casinos, Florida lawmakers are looking at other changes to the existing gambling industry in the Sunshine State. Right now, Florida has tribal casinos, racetracks and pari-mutuel facilities. The aforementioned contain poker rooms.

 
 
Tags: Florida