Poll Shows Florida Voters Want Gaming Control, Gubernatorial Candidates Mixed on Casino Amendment

Posted on: September 2, 2018, 12:00h. 

Last updated on: August 31, 2018, 01:12h.

A new poll shows that Florida voters overwhelmingly support stripping the state legislature of its power to dictate the future gaming industry.

Florida voters gaming amendment casino
Florida voters will decide between Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum (left) and Republican Ron DeSantis in November. They’ll also decide the fate of how gaming legislation is decided moving forward. (Image: CNN)

Voters in Charge is the committee that successfully led the effort to place Amendment 3 before voters in November. The ballot question will ask citizens if they want “the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling” measures.

Should 60 percent of voters answer “yes,” state legislators would no longer be able to expand gambling in the Sunshine State. Instead, any such expansion would have to come through a citizen initiative and voted on in a public election.

A new poll of 1,209 likely voters finds that 71 percent of Floridians plan to endorse Amendment 3. The poll was conducted by Hill Research Consultants in Alabama. The market research firm says the margin of error is +/-3 percent, with a 95 percent confidence level.

“Amendment 3 asks the simple question, ‘Who do you trust: Florida voters, or the politicians and the lobbyists who influence them?'” Voters in Charge President John Sowinski declared.

This week’s poll strengthens the data for Voters in Charge. A study from the Florida Chamber of Commerce in June found that 61 percent of voters would back Amendment 3.

Lobbying Games

Voters in Charge has two very powerful entities in its corner, Disney and the Seminole Tribe. Collectively, the two groups are responsible for roughly 99 percent of the organization’s total funding. Since 2017, Disney has given $14.6 million to the effort, and the Native American tribe $11.7 million.

The 71 percent support poll finding is 11 percent more than required for the amendment question to pass and the legislature to lose its gaming decision powers. But Sowinski says the organization isn’t assuming anything.

We are confident, but by no means are we complacent,” Sowinski said of the data. “We anticipate the gambling industry and its lobbyists will fight hard against Amendment 3 and we are ready for that challenge.”

So far, there’s been little opposition in terms of campaign finance. However, a group called Citizens for Truth About Amendment 3 formed in July. To date, the organization has raised $1.77 million, with most of the money coming from parimutuel operators in the state.

Parimutuel operators believe legislators will better fight for their desires to incorporate house-banked table games and slot machines into their facilities.

Where Candidates Stand

Disney and the Seminoles both want gambling to remain in its current form.

The media and entertainment conglomerate wants to protect the family-friendly image of Orlando where its theme parks are located. The tribe wants to retain its monopoly on slot machines outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, and house-banked table games.

This week’s gubernatorial primary saw Andrew Gillum emerge on the Democratic ticket, and Ron DeSantis take the GOP nod.

DeSantis, who earned President Donald Trump’s endorsement, hasn’t spoken publicly on the casino issue. He has, however, received $500,000 in PAC money funneled in by Las Vegas Sands billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

Gillum has been more vocal on the amendment. The Democrat said recently, “I am always in favor of the voters having a say on momentous issues.”