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Big Dollars Flowing to Amendments

July 19th, 2021 by Mike Vasilinda

The signing of an exclusive, thirty year gambling deal, including sports betting, with the Seminole Tribe has major out of state companies seeking to expand gambling on the 2022 ballot.  As Mike Vasilinda tells us, tens of millions are already earmarked for petition gathering efforts for at least three amendments.

 

Big out of state interests are bankrolling efforts to create more gambling here after they were shut out by the new Seminole Tribe gaming compact this year.

“This is the agreement.” Said Governor Ron DeSantis moments after signing the compact. No Casino’s President John Sowinski suggests they don’t have Flordia’s best interests at heart.

“A lot of gambling interests looked at that and said they would rather have a free for all for what happens in Florida” says Sowinski.

More than 60 million flowed to campaigns in June. 

Las Vegas Sands put 17 million behind two proposed amendments. It hasn’t decided which to push, but one would allow three new casino’s. The other would allow a casino somewhere between Jacksonville and Pensacola, with Jacksonville the top choice. Sowinski says a new casino will hurt where ever it’s located.

“Whatever the form of gambling is that’s introduced, it doesn’t generate new money. It simply diverts discretionary spending from bars, restaurants, movie theaters” Sowinski told us.

Neither idea violates the Indian gaming deal. Not so with another proposal to allow sports betting…which the Seminole Tribe got exclusive rights to in the new compact.

If it passes, the tribe would lower its payments to the state.

The amendment on sports betting was already being anticipated by the Governor on the day he signed the new compact. 

“We’re not authorizing that. That’s a referendum, so you could deduct the payment from that portion, but still have the other stuff” said the Governor this past April.

The Seminole Tribe says it will spend its Flordia money to stop the amendments. 

While Fan Duel and Draft Kings each pitched in ten million. 

Then there is another 15 million from the owners of a south Florida casino to a campaign that doesn’t even exist yet. Ironically, all the money is likely to create a bidding war for signatures, making each campaign more expensive in the end.

The rush to fund the amendments is because a new law limits contributions to amendment gathering efforts, but on the day it took effect, July first, a judge granted an injunction, erasing the three thousand dollar contribution limit, at least temporarily.

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