Florida Petition Drive Surpasses 100,000 Signatures

Voters In Charge submitted more than 100,000 valid signatures on petitions to place on the November 18 ballot a constitutional amendment restricting gambling expansion. The Disney Corporation contributed $650,000 of the $688,000 the group has raised since fundraising began in March, giving $400,000 in June and $250,000 in April.

In Florida, the political committee Voters In Charge submitted 104,416 valid petition signatures gathered between April 1 and June 30, according to the Florida Division of Elections website. The group must submit 766,200 to put on the November 2018 ballot the proposed Voter Control of Gambling constitutional amendment restricting gambling expansion in the state.

Also, financial reports show the organization spent $472,000 on petition printing, gathering and verification. The group’s major backer, Disney Worldwide Services, gave it $400,000 in June and $250,000 in April.

If voters approve the proposed constitutional amendment, they will have the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling” in the state and to approve casino-style games in the future. The Florida Supreme Court approved the wording of the ballot initiative in April.

Voters In Charge spokesman John Sowinski, chairman of the No Casinos political committee behind the measure, said another 300,000 signatures are waiting to be verified. “Tens of thousands of Floridians are signing the blue petition each week to ensure that voters, not politicians, have the exclusive authority to make gambling decisions in our state. There is a fictional belief that the legislature can do whatever it wants. This is really about: Where does this decision belong? We trust the voters.”

Gambling attorney and lobbyist Marc Dunbar said the anti-casino initiative is vague and poorly written, and will invite lawsuits over gambling games that currently are legal. “All this does is shift the issue from the legislature to the courts. It’s a parade of uncertainty,” he said.

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