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Florida voters pass Amendment 3, increase difficulty of implementing sports betting

Voters Across The Country Head To The Polls For The Midterm Elections Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

It might be some time before the state of Florida implements sports gambling. Amendment 3 passed in Tuesday’s midterm elections, moving the future of sports gambling from the state legislature to the citizens via the initiative process. The amendment passed by a wide margin, 64.4 percent to 35.6 percent, with 99.7 percent precincts reporting as of publishing.

This moves any future gambling changes from the legislature to the citizen initiative process. That makes it more difficult to move through any changes to gambling, including implementing sports gambling. The initiative process requires at least 60 percent of voters approving a measure, which is never an easy get.

Amendment 3 was heavily supported by the Seminole Tribe and Disney Worldwide Services. The Seminole Tribe supported it because it would allow them to retain their firm group on casino gaming in Florida. Disney Worldwide Services supported it because an increase in gambling would push back on entertainment dollars flowing into Disney’s coffers.

The NFL opposed the amendment leading up to Election Day. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers contributed $500,000 to a political action committee that opposed the amendment. The day before the election, the Miami Dolphins tweeted their opposition.

Here is the full text of Amendment 3.

This amendment ensures that Florida voters shall have the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling by requiring that in order for casino gambling to be authorized under Florida law, it must be approved by Florida voters pursuant to Article XI, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution. Affects articles X and XI. Defines casino gambling and clarifies that this amendment does not conflict with federal law regarding state/tribal compacts.

The amendment’s impact on state and local government revenues and costs, if any, cannot be determined at this time because of its unknown effect on gambling operations that have not been approved by voters through a constitutional amendment proposed by a citizens’ initiative petition process.