Florida Supreme Court Might Decide Fate of State’s Casino Industry

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Florida lawmakers are having a difficult time. They want to expand the state’s casino market but get blocked at almost every turn. The state’s attorney general now wants the Florida Supreme Court to review a measure that could ultimately lead to new casinos in North Florida. It would allow for a ballot measure to appear in this November’s elections and give state voters the right to decide. This is in line with a measure from 2018 that gave voters control over the state’s gaming future.

Florida Hopes to Grow Casino Market

In 2018, Florida voters approved a ballot measure that gave them sole control over the introduction of new casinos in the state. It seems simple enough, but not to everyone. Attorney General Ashley Moody requested last Friday that the Florida Supreme Court review a proposal for a constitutional amendment, according to media outlet FOX 35 in Orlando. This would allow North Florida to offer Las Vegas-style gambling. Existing casinos could offer traditional casino gaming.

Las Vegas Sands (LVS) backs the proposal. It has tried unsuccessfully for years to bring one of its Las Vegas-style gambling properties to the state. The operator had looked previously at South Florida before deciding that it might be too crowded.

FOX 35 Orlando reported that if the proposal is approved and gathers enough signatures, it could appear on November’s ballot. According to the report, more than half (900,000) of the required signatures have been received.

LVS Sees Great Opportunity in Florida

LVS has pledged $27 million to fund the proposal, which is opposed by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The Seminole now controls all casino-style betting in Florida and wants to keep it that way.

The high court will review the question’s clarity, along with other requirements, in order for the matter to be considered and brought before the voters.

According to the American Gaming Association, 15 Florida gaming properties currently generate more than $3 billion annually in gambling wins. The majority of the casino revenue – $2.5 billion – is generated by the seven Seminole casinos. Only the Seminole can offer Class III gaming under the current laws.

If the casino expansion measure succeeds, the Florida Casino Gaming Expansion Initiative will, according to the measure’s entry on Ballotpedia, “expand casino gaming in Florida by allowing businesses with active cardroom licenses to offer casino gaming as long as they are (a) located 130 miles in a straight line away from any of the seven Seminole tribal casinos and (b) expend $250 million in capital investments (new development and construction costs on the gaming complex) within three years after submitting a notice of commencement of casino gaming.”

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