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Florida: residents may get vote on casino expansion

Florida’s residents may get a vote on whether to authorise more casino gambling under a constitutional amendment proposal that would wrestle power away from politicians.Almost 850,000 residents have signed an anti-gambling petition, putting Florida’s ‘Voter Control of Casino Gambling Initiative’ on November’s general election ballot. Constitutional changes must be approved by 60% of voters.

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If the initiative is passed into law, Florida’s politicians will need approval from residents before they can authorise additional casino gambling, defined as electronic and simulated gambling, internet sweepstakes and video lottery devices.

Native American tribal lands are exempt, as are horse and dog races, the Orlando Weekly newspaper reports.

The initiative is backed by an unlikely duo: Disney Worldwide Services, which has an interest in maintinaing Florida's family-friendly image, and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which has seven tribal casinos and a monopoly over Florida’s gambling industry. Disney has invested more than $9m on the “Yes” campaign, while the Seminoles have spent $6.78m.

While the “no” campaign hasn’t had any notable big backers, that could change now that the US Supreme Court has repealed PASPA, allowing states to decide for themselves whether to offer sports betting, including sports betting in casinos.

Meanwhile, Florida’s regulators have approved plans for a new casino north of downtown Miami, the website Florida Politics reported.

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation issued a “summer jai alai” permit for a gambling facility on a seven-acre property, allowing gambling on jai alai games between 1 May and 30 November every year.

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