Disney and Seminole Tribe Pour $700,000 into Florida Casino Amendment Initiative in February

The Seminole Tribe of Florida and Disney Worldwide Services, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, contributed collectively the amount of $700,000 in February to Voters in Charge, the political committee behind the Voter Control of Gambling initiative.

According to a report posted by the Florida Division of Elections website, the tribe contributed a total of $500,000 last month to the the committee, and Disney contributed $200,000. This was not the first time when the Walt Disney Company subsidiary poured a six-figure amount to support the initiative. The media and entertainment conglomerate has actually made contributions worth over $3 million since the inception of Voters in Charge back in the fall of 2015.

Voters in Charge is spearheading a constitutional amendment (Amendment 3) that, if approved by voters, would limit significantly the state Legislature’s power over decisions related to expansion of casino gambling within Florida’s borders.

The political committee had to gather a total of 766,200 valid signatures across the state’s 27 congressional districts in order to be able to put the casino amendment on the upcoming November ballot. The lobbying group eventually collected over 800,000 valid signatures to ensure that its initiative would make it to the ballot.

If Amendment 3 gains the necessary support at the statewide vote this fall, this would mean that state voters will have the final say in any casino gambling-related decisions in future. In other words, state legislators will not be able to expand casino gambling in the state without approval from residents.

According to the Monday report by the Division of Elections, Voters in Charge spent $560,000 last month, of which the amount of $500,000 was invested into advertising as the group sought to popularize the ballot measure across the state.

Gambling Expansion Push Once Again Fails in Legislature

Florida’s legislative session ended this past Friday with the Legislature’s two chambers once again failing to pass a uniform gambling bill and sign a new gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe.

The House and the Senate each produced a gambling-focused bill earlier this year, and each of the pieces contained provisions regarding the long overdue renewal of the tribal gaming compact. Aside from the tribal gambling matter, the House traditionally took a more conservative stance on the future of gambling in the state, while the Senate presented measures that could have seen, among other things, the addition of slot machines at race tracks in eight counties where the measure had been approved by voters.

The two chambers brought the pieces into conference last Thursday. Their leaders, the outgoing Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, said in a joint statement on Friday that although a significant progress had been made and “good faith efforts” had been put into producing a uniform gambling legislation, one would not be produced this year. However, this could actually be the last year when lawmakers would be able to adopt any gambling-related changes in the Legislature.

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