Expanding gambling does not guarantee a vibrant economy. Just look at Atlantic City. In fact, be wary of anyone touting how much an expansion of sports betting will inject into our local economies. Most bettors in Florida would be locals — not tourists — spending their discretionary income. If they weren’t making bets, they would likely spend the money on other local entertainment, like movies, restaurants, bars or theme parks.
In 2018, Florida voters overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment requiring statewide voter authorization of gambling expansions. Lawyers and others argue whether the amendment applies to sports betting. If the governor and lawmakers sidestep a statewide vote on the issue, lawsuits will surely follow. And taxpayers could pay the bill. But the legal semantics and technicalities belie the larger point: Voters wanted a direct say when the state contemplates expanding gambling. Sports betting would be a massive expansion. So let the voters decide whether sports betting is right for Florida.
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