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Amendment 3 is a Bad Bet for Florida

Published: November 2nd, 2018, 12:00pm CET

With the 2018 mid-term elections less than a week away, Florida’s Amendment 3 question has been the source of much confusion for voters. We strongly encourage voters to think broadly about what this amendment means for Florida’s economic climate, both today and many years in the future.

While Amendment 3 proponents claim it is about voter empowerment, it effectively takes advantage of a fractured statewide electorate to unnecessarily hinder Florida’s economic prospects in the gaming industry. It is a radical departure from the way such issues have been treated throughout Florida’s history, resulting in a total relinquishment of legislative and local control. Whether or not you think gaming should have a place in Florida, Amendment 3 sets a troublesome precedent for the state’s ability to broaden its economic horizons.

The idea of requiring a state-wide vote, not just a simple majority, but a supermajority, in order to adopt city or county-specific projects and initiatives should give educated voters pause. Should Tampa residents’ ability to decide what is best for their city be left in the hands of voters in the Miami area? Should Key West have their economic tool chest hindered by what folks in the panhandle think about gaming?

The state-wide referendum requirement in Amendment 3 is not only clunky and impractical, it ensures that only those well-moneyed interests with the tens of millions of dollars required to sustain a massive statewide campaign are able to make economic decisions impacting the lives of millions of Floridians.

The more appropriate and effective way to deal with gaming issues is local control, letting voters decide on issues that affect them, not voters hundreds of miles away. The local control approach to gaming has been successfully implemented in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, which have both authorized slot machines in their respective counties.

In addition to these counties, six others have authorized limited casino gaming via county-wide referendums, each of them well-measured and highly transparent. While legal issues remain, the principle of putting the voters squarely in charge of deciding the issues that will affect their communities should be one that all Floridians should agree on.

We also oppose Amendment 3 on its immediate subject matter because it puts a halt to all gaming innovation in the state, not just today but potentially decades from now. During a time when dozens of states are taking advantage of their newly acquired authority to offer sports betting and bring in millions of dollars in revenue that is currently flowing to offshore gaming websites, Amendment 3 all but ensures that Florida will never be able to capture this lucrative revenue stream and put it to use for our states’ schools.

Sports betting alone could bring as much as $1 billion in taxable revenue to the state each year, but this will never materialize under the burdensome restrictions imposed by Amendment 3. And to be clear, Amendment 3 doesn’t mean Floridians will stop betting, it just means that they will look elsewhere while Florida misses out on the proceeds.

As a lean but growing startup based in Tampa, we find what Amendment 3 stands for to be very discouraging. Our company, KAX Media America, has made a significant investment in developing a safe and well-regulated future for Florida’s gaming industry. We offer tools and information to help people find reputable, licensed gaming operators and make smart decisions in the realm of online gaming, and our footprint is growing substantially now that states are beginning to see the potential of online gaming as a powerful economic tool.

Gaming today doesn’t mean more smoke-filled casinos, it means tech jobs and growth where Florida needs it most. We have seen firsthand how states like New Jersey are embracing gaming technology and innovation to invigorate their economies and provide much-needed revenue for education and transportation initiatives. If Florida doesn’t get on board, many other states are lining up to do so.

We believe that gaming decisions should always remain with the voters, but not under the arbitrary limitations of Amendment 3, which says that a majority vote just isn’t good enough.

Don’t be fooled by Amendment 3 proponents - a vote against Amendment 3 is not the same as a vote for gaming expansion, it’s a vote to keep options on the table for if and when the right time comes around and Florida voters decide locally that there is an economic benefit to be gained from gaming. But more importantly, a vote against Amendment 3 is a vote for entrepreneurship, local control, and the economic freedom to innovate. Please vote NO on Amendment 3.

Charles Gillespie
Chief Executive
Gambling.com Group Plc