Las Vegas Sands Drops 2022 Florida Casino Ballot Effort

Posted on: April 2, 2022, 03:29h. 

Last updated on: April 2, 2022, 05:23h.

Las Vegas Sands is scrapping its effort to put a ballot question before Florida voters this year regarding a new casino-resort in the northern part of the state. That’s fwollowing a months-long legal spat and heavy spending,

Florida casino
The Seminole Tribe’s Hard Rock casino-resort in Florida. It appears Las Vegas Sands is dropping a 2022 effort to build a casino in that state. (Image: Miami Herald)

The effort pitted Sands against the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the state’s dominant casino operator. The largest gaming company by market capitalization supported an effort that would have allowed Florida’s cardrooms to offer more Las Vegas-style gaming amenities. As is seen in other states across the country that lack commercial casinos, tribal operators typically balk at such efforts, and move to protect their monopolies.

Casino gaming in Florida is dominated by the Seminole Tribe, which operates under the Hard Rock brand. They control everything with the exception of Miami-Dade and Broward counties in the southern part of the state. There, slot machines and table games are permitted at racinos.

It was rumored that Sands was supporting liberalization of Florida’s gaming laws as part of a plan to potentially bring an integrated resort to Jacksonville – far away from Hard Rock gaming properties.

Nasty Spat

By some estimates, both LVS and the Seminoles spent big bucks on this issue. Data from Florida’s Division of Elections indicates Sands spent at least $73 million to back a political action committee (PAC) known as “Florida Voters in Charge.” That’s while the tribe spent at least $40 million to prevent the question from being placed on the November ballot. The battle took an increasingly unsavory tone in recent months.

The clash over the casino initiative pitted Las Vegas Sands Corp. against the Seminole Tribe of Florida and included allegations of death threats against workers gathering signatures for the ballot proposal, accusations that supporters of the measure violated state law by paying workers by the signature,” reports Dara Kam for the News Service of Florida.

LVS had to attempt the ballot question plan because in 2018, Floridians approved of Amendment 3, which puts casino expansion in the hands of voters.

Sands fell short of the 900,000 signatures required by a Feb. 1 deadline. The company asked Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper to extend the deadline, but he rejected that request.

For LVS, Florida Is Dead This Year

“Florida Voters in Charge” spokeswoman Sarah Bascom told News Service of Florida that the group is in the process of ceasing operations.

However, it’s not clear if Las Vegas Sands will attempt a similar effort again in 2024.

Currently, the operator has no exposure to the US. It’s widely known that LVS is eager to bring an integrated resort to Texas, but some politicians there oppose that effort. Additionally, the company is believed to be interested in a New York City casino. But it’s not clear how policymakers there will approach gaming expansion.