The Voters In Charge committee today announced that the group has collected 100,000 petition signatures, and is submitting those petitions to county Supervisors of Elections to undergo the validation process. The group’s Chairman, John Sowinski, is confident that the total collected will result in more than the 68,314 valid petitions needed to trigger review by the Florida Supreme Court.
The initiative is part of a three-pronged strategy by groups opposing the expansion of gambling in Florida. Other fronts include opposing legislation that would expand gambling, including the proposed compact between the State of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, as well as a legal battle in the Gretna Racing LLC v Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations case pending before the Florida Supreme Court.
“When we launched this petition drive in October, we outlined a plan that called for hitting this goal of collecting enough signatures, that when validated, would result in the total needed for the Supreme Court to review the initiative, and we have achieved that goal,” Sowinski said. “If the court returns a ruling in the Gretna case that does not give authority over gambling expansion to the people of Florida, we will continue the initiative process and put this amendment on the 2018 ballot.”
The Voter Control of Gambling Amendment would require those pressing for casino gambling to make their case to Florida voters in an open and public forum through a constitutional initiative. The amendment, which was originally developed for legislative consideration, consistently polls near 70% approval. The ballot summary is as follows:
“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.”
“Our state’s history shows that you cannot expand gambling even a little in one place without it resulting in an explosion of gambling in another,” Sowinski continued. “The people of Florida should have the ultimate say when it comes to deciding on gambling expansion, not gambling industry lawyers and lobbyists.”