According to Florida Division of Elections records, on July 30 both Disney Worldwide and the Seminole Tribe of Florida donated $5 million to Voters in Charge, the political group behind the Voter Control of Gambling Amendment. The group collected enough qualified signatures for the proposal to appear on the November ballot as Amendment 3, which would give Florida voters the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling” in the future.
The amendment requires 60 percent approval to pass. A Florida Chamber of Commerce poll released in June indicated 61 percent of respondents said they support Amendment 3; however, the poll had a +/-4.0 percent margin of error. Another poll, by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, found only 8 percent of Floridians favor expanding casino gambling.
Since 2017, Disney has contributed more than $14.6 million to the organization and the Seminoles have contributed more than $11.7 million. Together the two groups’ donations total nearly 99 percent of Voters in Charge’s contributions.
In its latest financial filing, Voters in Charge reported $20 million cash on hand and indicated it is planning a massive pro-Amendment 3 advertising blitz leading up to the November 6 election.
Meanwhile, Citizens for the Truth About Amendment 3, a political group formed to oppose the ballot issue, reported having $1 million in cash on hand. Those funds came from the parimutuels Jacksonville Greyhound Racing and Elevated LLC which each donated $500,000. The group also received $250,000 from the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel owned by billionaire Jeffrey Schorr, who also owns the Big Easy Casino in Hallandale Beach.
Democratic candidates for governor of Florida, competing in the August 28 primary, recently expressed their positions on Amendment 3. U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, the daughter of former Florida Governor Bob Graham, stated, “I am against the expansion of gambling” regarding both issues. Her close competitor Philip Levine, the former mayor of Miami, also stated, “I am against the expansion of gambling.” Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum said he supports Amendment 3. “I am always in favor of the voters having a say on momentous issues,” he said. Real estate developer Jeff Greene also said casino expansion should be left up to local communities.