“Watch out Florida. Out-of-state gambling companies are spending tens of millions to turn our state into another Las Vegas,” an advertisement paid for by Standing Up for Florida warns voters. Advertisements like this one discuss the repercussions of two proposed amendments regarding gambling laws that could be on the Florida ballot in November 2022. So far, Florida has seen $13.1M in spending surrounding the proposed ballot measures.
Florida has a long history of altering its state gambling laws. Sports betting was officially legalized in the state in 1931, and since then, laws have been passed legalizing certain forms of gambling. In 2004, Florida officially legalized casino gambling.
More recently, Amendment 3, entitled “Voter Control of Gambling,” was passed 71.5% to 28.5%, and gave voters the sole rights to approve the expansion of gambling in the state of Florida. The 2018 law disallowed the Florida state legislature from being able to authorize casino gambling through statute or constitutional amendments. We recorded $28.3M in spending on advertisements about the 2018 Amendment 3.
In April 2021, the Seminole Tribe of Florida was given exclusive ability to conduct sports betting in the state of Florida through the passing of the 2021 Gaming Compact. Under the agreement, the tribe is required to share revenue from sports betting with the state of Florida until 2051.
Two more amendments were proposed to be on the 2022 ballot. If passed, the proposed Constitutional Amendments would allow three new casinos to conduct casino gaming, so long as they are 100 miles away from tribal casinos, and allow businesses with active cardroom licenses to offer casino gaming.
Spending has been recorded for issue groups across cable, broadcast, radio, and digital media. Four issue groups are spending on the gambling issue in 2021: Standing up for Florida, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, No Casinos Inc., and Florida Education Champions. So far this year, these advertisers have spent $8.0M on broadcast advertising, $4.6M on cable, and a combined nearly $600,000 on radio, satellite, and digital advertising.
The Seminole Tribe of Florida has seen $8.5M in spending in opposition to the expansion of casino gaming. The Seminole Tribe, which currently has a monopoly for gambling in the state, is also funding Standing Up for Florida which has spent $3.8M on ads in 2021. No Casinos Inc. supported Amendment 3 in 2018 and has spent $300,000 in 2021 to block the amendments from being put on the ballot. Florida Education Champions has spent nearly $600,000 and is the only group in favor of putting the amendments on the ballot.
In comparison to spending in 2018 about the passing of Amendment 3, we have seen smaller numbers so far regarding the proposed 2022 amendments. October of 2018 saw a combined $19.3M in spending from issue groups. Voters in Charge was the major issue group spending in 2018, whereas the Seminole Tribe of Florida is the primary issue group spending on advertisements in 2021.
Proponents of the ballot measure say that it will grow Florida’s economy, expand tourism, and provide jobs and revenue to Floridians. Opponents argue that out-of-state gambling companies will start to take over in the state.
In the state of Florida, it is required that signatures are collected that equal at least eight percent of votes cast in the preceding election in at least half of the state’s 27 congressional districts. This measure would require 891,589 signatures to be put on next year’s ballot.
Spending reached almost $3M in May after the 2021 Gaming Compact was passed, then dropped, only to increase again in September and again in October. We have seen an increase in spending at the end of 2021 as the signature deadline approaches. In order to be placed on the November ballot, the petition will need almost 650,000 additional signatures by February 1st.