Before 1977, Nevada was the only place in America where high stakes casino gambling was legal. That year, casinos were legalized in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It did not take gambling interests long to target what they considered then, and now, as the biggest prize – Florida.
But unlike Atlantic City, leaders in Florida realized that we have much to lose. So then-Governor Reuben Askew took a bold stand. He didn’t just oppose a casino-bankrolled ballot initiative to legalize casinos in Florida – he created an organization to stop it. And he rallied leaders from the business, civic, law enforcement, religious and governmental communities to recognize what we all have to lose, and to engage the fight.
From that day forward, “No Casinos” was more than just a political effort – it was an important civic cause. Voters overwhelmingly rejected high stakes casinos gambling in 1978. And when the casino carnival bus made its way to Florida again in 1986 and 1994, No Casinos was reactivated to once again lead the fight with the help of the same coalition Governor Askew brought together in 1978.
In 2004, No Casinos rallied to fight a ballot initiative to legalize slot machines at dog tracks, horse tracks and jai alai frontons in Dade and Broward Counties. Following a well funded deceptive campaign that led voters to believe that the amendment was to merely regulate existing slot machines (see ads here). The amendment narrowly passed with 50.8% of the vote.
Today the risk is even greater. The odds are even higher. But there is a big difference. Emboldened by lobbyist encouragement and court decision that appears to give the legislature – rather than voters – the power to legalize casino gambling in our state – legislators are considering a bill that would allow for the biggest casinos in the world to be built in Florida. In fact, one casino proposed by a Malaysian casino conglomerate would be nearly twice as big as the world’s largest casino, which is located in China. In fact, this casino would be bigger than the casinos in The Mirage, The Wynn, The Bellagio, The Venetian, Caesars Palace and MGM Grand COMBINED.
No Casinos has once again been reactivated to stop this threat to our economy, our families, our quality of life, and the character of our communities. Our supporters include the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Attractions Association, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, the Florida Retail Federation and the Florida Sheriff’s Association – to name just a few.