LVS Targets Jacksonville Casino with $17m Committee Funding

A casino company is stealing gambling industry headlines this week after it was revealed it made a multi-million contribution to a political committee to support gambling expansion.

Statewide Casino Petition

Florida Voters in Charge, a political committee with a mailing address in Jacksonville Beach, filed with the state’s Division of Elections documents to reveal the committee received $17 million from Las Vegas Sands (LVS) to go for a statewide petition for a gambling amendment to be put to the November 2022 ballot.

The news of the amendments to the state constitution to open the door to casino gambling in the northern part of the state comes straight on the heels of the recently approved new compact with the Seminole Tribe, which runs seven casinos in the southern part of Florida.

“Florida Voters in Charge is exploring options that do not violate the recently passed compact/revenue sharing agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.”

Sarah Bascom, Spokeswoman, Florida Voters in Charge

The committee, which has as its treasurer and deputy treasurer, respectively, Erika Alba and Kevin Hyde, two Jacksonville attorneys from the Foley & Lardner law firm based in Milwaukee, pitched two proposals to the Florida Secretary of State. Both point to Jacksonville as the targeted location for a casino resort.

“The two proposed ballot initiatives are options we are exploring, specifically focusing on bringing casino gaming and the accompanying economic development to North Florida.”

Sarah Bascom, Spokeswoman, Florida Voters in Charge

Amendment Proposals

The first proposal would authorize up to three locations for holders of cardroom licenses to offer casino gaming if they are at least 130 miles away from tribal lands and commit to an investment of at least $250 million, putting locations operated by bestbet in Northeast Florida and Gretna, as well as in the Jacksonville area in the mix.

Farther than 130 miles from any of the seven casinos operated by the Seminole Tribe, in Clewiston, Okeechobee, Coconut Creek, Hollywood, Immokalee and Tampa, Jacksonville has one of the busiest cardrooms in the state on Monument Road, as well as a poker room on Park Avenue in Orange Park.

A license holder would not be limited to the location of an existing facility only, as the proposal has provisions for relocation to another site within the same county, as long as the relocation occurs before the end of 2025.

The second proposal has provisions for up to three new casinos, after a competitive bid, and is opening the door for a new player to set up shop with a facility located at least 100 miles away from Seminole’s gambling venues, while applicants will have to invest at least $500 million into the development of the venue.

Regardless of which option LVS would choose, Jacksonville ticks all the boxes and would provide a market size big enough to justify the investment. The city’s Mayor, Lenny Curry, further fueled speculation that Jax is the main candidate by stating that the city is the right choice for an LVS casino.

“I look forward to talking with gaming leaders about our potential & why we are the right choice for @LasVegasSands.”

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry

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