My View: Gambling proposals may violate Florida ConstitutionFebruary 29, 2016
Statement from No Casinos President John Sowinski on Supreme Court allowing No Casinos amicus brief to be heardMarch 11, 2016
Gretna lawyers afraid to defend constitutionality of slot machines
Orlando, Fla. – Feeling that they may not be able to successfully argue the constitutionality of slot machines outside of Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, lawyers for Gretna Racing moved to strike the amicus briefs filed by Former Governor Bob Graham and No Casinos in the Gretna Racing LLC v Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations case pending before the Florida Supreme Court.
“The fact that they are afraid to make the case that what they want is permissible under Florida’s constitution speaks volumes,” said John Sowinski, President of No Casinos. “Both our brief and the brief from Governor Graham have strong arguments grounded in Florida’s Constitution. They give the Court the full picture of this issue. This case is about much more than splicing sentences in statutes to see which phrase modifies another phrase. This case strikes at the heart of a fundamental principle that was thoughtfully and deliberately placed into Florida’s constitution – that the people of Florida have the constitutional right to determine whether or not certain forms of gambling shall be allowed in our state.”
As Judge Scott Makar noted in his decision for the First District Court of Appeal, “This case has been presented as a statutory interpretation case, but, as an initial matter, 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.”
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.