Orlando, Fla. – No Casinos today submitted its amicus curiae brief to the Florida Supreme Court in the Gretna Racing LLC v Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation case. The brief addresses a point raised by Judge Scott Makar in his opinion for the Court in the 1st District Court of Appeal. Judge Makar noted that, “it is not at all clear that the Legislature has the constitutional authority to expand the use of slot machines outside of the geographic areas of Broward and Miami-Dade Counties as permitted by Article X, section 23.”
In addition to the brief by No Casinos, Former Florida Governor Bob Graham, who was in the legislature as it debated what would become the 1968 Florida Constitution that the state is governed by today, also filed a brief calling on the court to heed the constitutional requirement that voters must approve forms of gambling that fall under the legal definition of a lottery. Both briefs make strong arguments backed by strong precedent that slot machines fall under that definition.
The briefs argue that Article X, section 7 of the Florida Constitution prohibits “lotteries”, except for those types of pari-mutuels already in existence at the time of passage of the state constitution in 1968. Since then, Florida voters approved amendments to the constitution allowing operation of the Florida Lottery and to allow slot machines at pari-mutuels in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
Graham’s brief cites past Florida Supreme Court opinions that those forms of gambling whose outcome is entirely determined by chance – slot machines, craps and roulette – are undeniably lotteries by any standard.
Soon after the passage of the current 1968 constitution, a 1970 Florida Supreme Court case, Greater Loretta Improvement Association v State ex rel. Boone, took on the issue of defining what is and what is not allowed under the lottery provision. The court wrote, “Obviously, the makers of our 1968 constitution recognized horse racing as a type of lottery and a ‘pari-mutuel pool’ but also intended to include in its sanction those other lotteries then legally functioning; namely dog racing, ja alai and bingo. All other lotteries including bolito, cuba, slot machines, etc were prohibited.” (emphasis added) Both the majority and the dissenting opinions in this case unconditionally prohibit slot machines as lotteries under Article X, section 7 without reference or resort to the public nuisance test.
The No Casinos brief argues that the Greater Loretta case should be the controlling case over that of a 2004 advisory opinion issued by the Court, based on the much greater weight of case precedent, case law for rules for applying conflicting precedents and the rule that advisory opinions have less weight than contested cases.
“Our legal argument is strong and rooted in the Florida Constitution,” said No Casinos President John Sowinski. “We are confident that the briefs filed by No Casinos and former Governor Graham will help the Court have a full picture of the limits that the state constitution places on gambling and that Floridians have the ultimate voice in deciding whether or not to allow gambling expansion in our state.”
To view the online case docket via the Florida Supreme Court’s website click here. You can also download copies of the briefs in the Studies & Downloads section of our website.
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