Florida voters deliver gambling expansion setback

8 November 2018

Legal gambling could be less likely in Florida after voters chose to give themselves rather than politicians the power to progress expansion in the state.

Florida, Arkansas and Louisiana each held plebiscites on gambling issues on Tuesday, as the public participated in the midterm elections.

In Florida, the Disney-backed Amendment 3, which states that citizens will retain exclusive rights to authorise and potentially expand casino gambling in the state, received about 70% of the vote.

Voters in Charge, backed by the entertainment and theme park giant as well as the Seminole Tribe, which is the state’s leading gaming operator, spent around $31m on the campaign to prevent politicians from expanding gambling. Those against Amendment 3 included DraftKings, FanDuel, racing operators and the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

It is believed the difficulties in getting gambling expansion onto the ballot and then persuading more than 60% of voters to back it makes any development unlikely in the near future.

Meanwhile, a majority of voters (54%) in Arkansas backed Issue 4, which allows four new casinos and enables them to offer sports betting. Two racetracks will expand to offer casino gaming while two wholly new venues are planned.

The Arkansas Racing Commission now has 120 days to come up with rules to vet casino operator applicants, with licences to be issued by June 2019.

“This is really exciting,” said Alex Gray, counsel for the Driving Arkansas Forward committee that sponsored the ballot measure, which argued the casinos would boost state coffers and create jobs.
Meanwhile, voters in Louisiana have overwhelmingly backed the legalisation of daily fantasy sports.

Cities including New Orleans and Baton Rouge are among the 47 of the state’s 64 parishes where contests will now be allowed.

The vote was a success for sector giants DraftKings and FanDuel, which spent a combined $1m lobbying on the issue.

Image: AdamFirst