Florida’s Amendment 13 and Why People Should Vote NO

vote no on 13As many of you may already know, Amendment 13: Voter Control of Gambling in Florida is going to be introduced on the general election ballot come November. The passing of this amendment will give voters in Florida the exclusive right to decide whether or not a new casino operation can be authorized to open within the state. While the words on the November ballot appear to be simple enough - “more power to the people” - things are rarely that simple. So, what’s up with the introduction of amendment 13? And why is it being introduced now?

The amendment would require anybody who wants to open a casino within the state of Florida to obtain hundreds of thousands of signatures from residents, so that it gets on the ballot and then, hope for voter approval. While Amendment 13 apparently gives more power to the people, it actually works in favor of those who oppose any new casinos from opening in the State. Case in point, Disney has opposed casino gambling for years in Florida, because it means loss of valuable revenue for them.

The Seminole Tribe, who have been operating their casinos in Florida for years, are also not thrilled about any new casino being built in the area which will increase competition. While the inclusion of Amendment 13 on the ballot seems to empower the voter, it doesn’t really make sense. It would give voters in one part of the state to decide whether a casino can open somewhere else in the state of Florida. Not to mention, this would only benefit large corporations who already have sources to gather the hundreds of thousands of signatures that will be required for considering the approval of a new casino being built in Florida. Furthermore, it is important to note that the only reason why Amendment 13 has made it to the ballot paper is because of the heavy lobbying by the likes of Disney and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Both have significant skin in the game when it comes to attracting those tourist entertainment dollars. Since Amendment 13 is focused on gambling, it does not only focus on new casinos being built, but also other gambling avenues such as horse racing facilities.

Out of the 12 amendments to the Florida Constitution, only two were put there by actual legislature and actual sound reasoning. Amendment 13 is not one of those two. While it would be good to make it harder for gambling to expand in the Sunshine State, Amendment 13 is unfair. Amendment 13 promotes the right of residents to decide their own destiny by voting, but at what cost?

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