Saturday, October 13, 2018

Florida Ballot Issues Endorsements: No on Amendment 3

I'm not sure how many of the issues on Florida's November ballot I'll bother analyzing here, but at least one or two, starting with Amendment 3. The relevant parts, excluding the word definitions section, etc. ...

This amendment ensures that Florida voters shall have the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling in the State of Florida. This amendment requires a vote by citizens’ initiative pursuant to Article XI, section 3, in order for casino gambling to be authorized under Florida law. This section amends this Article; and also affects Article XI, by making citizens’ initiatives the exclusive method of authorizing casino gambling.


Nothing herein shall be deemed to limit the right of the Legislature to exercise its authority through general law to restrict, regulate, or tax any gaming or gambling activities. In addition, nothing herein shall be construed to limit the ability of the state or Native American tribes to negotiate gaming compacts pursuant to the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act for the conduct of casino gambling on tribal lands, or to affect any existing gambling on tribal lands pursuant to compacts executed by the state and Native American tribes pursuant to IGRA.

In short, under Amendment 3 only the voters (not the legislature) can allow non-Indian casinos, but the legislature can still do things that make casinos more difficult and expensive to open or operate.

Who, I wonder, could be behind such an idea? Well, the top three donors to "Voters in Charge," the group pushing the amendment, are:

  • Disney Worldwide Services, because Disney doesn't want to compete with casino gambling for tourist dollars in Florida
  • The Seminole Tribe of Florida, because the tribe doesn't want to compete with non-Indian-owned casinos in Florida
  • No Casinos Inc., an anti-gambling (at least in Florida) organization

The "purpose" of Amendment 3 may be to put "voters in charge" of whether or not to allow casino gambling, but the goal of Amendment 3 is to make sure casino gambling isn't allowed.

My preferred casino gambling amendment to Florida's constitution would look something like this:

Don't want to own, operate, or patronize a casino? Don't own, operate, or patronize a casino. Don't want others to own, operate, or patronize casinos? Well, feel free to try to talk them out of doing so if that floats your boat, but it's not your decision to make for them. Things would probably just be much better all around if you minded your own f**king business.

That option not being on the menu, I intend to vote no on Amendment 3 and encourage others to do likewise. Not because I trust the legislature to mind its own f**king business, but because legislators at least might have some incentives (increased tax revenues, perhaps some expensive meals paid for by lobbyists, etc.) to possibly at least allow these businesses to operate.

Yes, there are competing incentives (I'm sure Disney, the Seminoles, and the evangelical obsessives or whoever is behind No Casinos Inc., can lay out a great prime rib and crab leg buffet too, as well as contribute to pols who toe their line and to opponents of pols who don't), but the prohibitionists wouldn't be behind this if they didn't think it was going to be, at least in the long run, a more effective and less expensive way of protecting their business interests through government force and/or running everyone else's lives through same.

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