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Florida Voters Take Control Of Casino Expansion, End Dog Racing

Insiders Fear Seminole Tribe Has Been Granted Gambling Monopoly In Florida

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Florida voters took control of casino legislation on Tuesday, giving residents the exclusive right to authorize future casino expansion in the state.

Amendment 3, also known as the Voter Approval of Casino Gambling Initiative, passed with 71.5 percent of the vote, despite a late push from opposition that believes the move will only further strengthen the Seminole Tribe’s stranglehold on the Florida gambling market.

“Amendment 3 is a pernicious and anti-competitive approach to limiting poker and other gaming in the state of Florida for decades to come," said Mark Brenner, President of the Poker Alliance before the vote. “A few exceedingly well-financed special interests are driving a ballot initiative that is mislabeled and anti-consumer in the State of Florida.”

The Seminole Tribe, which operates six casinos in the state, wound up spending a total of $24.3 million in support of the amendment. Florida tourism giant Disney was the second biggest contributor, donating $20.5 million to the cause to ensure the state has less options to draw dollars away from Kissimmee.

The non-tribal Florida gaming market generated $546.6 million in 2017 from the state’s commercial pari-mutuel facilities, but saw slowed growth overall of just 0.1 percent.

Florida voters also voted yes on Amendment 13, the Ban on Wagering on Dog Races measure, with 69 percent. The decision will effectively end all dog racing by 2020.

“Tonight, in an historic vote, Florida voters have delivered a knock-out blow to a cruel industry that has been hurting and killing dogs for nearly a century,” the Yes on 13 campaign wrote in a statement. “This is a small step in turning the page on a relic of the old economy, but a giant step for animal protection nationwide.”

There are just 17 greyhound tracks left in the United States, and Florida is currently home to 11 of them. A fair number of them also operate poker rooms, however, this amendment will not affect their ability to spread those games or other offerings such as simulcast betting and slot machines.