- The Las Vegas Sands-backed Florida Voters In Charge Initiative – which would have allowed for casinos in North Florida – has officially failed and the initiative will not appear on the 2022 ballot.
- The Seminole Tribe – who stood in strong opposition to the initiative and other gambling-centric voter initiatives – won big with the end of the campaign.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Voters In Charge – the Las Vegas Sands-backed group behind the proposed constitutional amendment that would have opened North Florida to casinos – began what they call the “winding down process” last week. They will not pursue any further legal action to attempt to get the ballot proposal on the 2022 ballot.
Las Vegas Sands-Backed Casino Initiative Fails
Florida Voters In Charge was primarily funded by Las Vegas Sands and began gathering signatures for their ballot initiative in June 2021.
The initiative needed to accumulate 891,589 verified signatures by February 2 to appear on the ballot. The Florida Division of Elections reports that the group submitted 814,159 signatures, 77,000 short of the necessary threshold.
After failing to reach the required number of signatures, Florida Voters In Charge filed for an extension with the Leon County Court. In the filing, the group claimed that they submitted more than the necessary number of signatures; however, Judge John Cooper did not grant Florida Voters In Charge an extension.
As a result, the group filed a notice of appeal with the 1st District Court of Appeal – which was subsequently dropped – leading to the group filing a motion for voluntary dismissal on April 1.
The endeavor was quite costly for everyone involved. Las Vegas Sands contributed at least $73 million to the ballot initiative; on the other hand, the Seminole Tribe spent upwards of $40 million to keep the initiative off the ballot in November, according to data from the Florida Division of Elections.
The decision to not pursue any further legal action ends Florida Voters In Charge’s much-publicized clash with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, who stood in opposition to the initiative. Several controversies have surrounded this particular initiative.
There have been accusations of threats levied against signature-gatherers by the Seminole Tribe; accusations that Florida Voters In Charge broke state law by paying signature-gatherers by the signature; and allegations that the Seminole Tribe was paying off signature gatherers to sabotage the initiative.
All Gambling-Related Ballot Initiatives Fail In Florida
The North Florida casino initiative was not the only gambling-centric ballot initiative to be defeated; another, separate proposal, which would have legalized and regulated sports betting in Florida both online and in-person at certain locations also faced stiff opposition from the Seminole Tribe.
The proposal did not gain as much traction as the North Florida casino proposal, which led to the Seminole Tribe setting its sights on the casino proposal.
As a result of the alleged interference, Florida Voters In Charge filed a lawsuit against the Seminole Tribe. Besides the allegations of direct interference from the Seminole Tribe, the lawsuit claimed that supervisors of elections were not processing all of the ballots that had been submitted and that a large number of signatures were rejected without allowing the voter to correct the signature issue.
The lawsuit was dropped on January 31, a day prior to the Division of Elections-imposed deadline.
Seminole Tribe Big Winners
The Seminole Tribe recently launched a television advertising campaign across Florida thanking voters for not approving either of the gambling ballot initiatives.
Whether as a result of interference or otherwise, the Seminole Tribe stands as clear winners in the situation; there will be no gambling or legal sports betting initiatives on the ballot this election cycle.
News tags: 1st District Court Of Appeal | Florida | Florida Division Of Elections | Florida Voters In Charge | John Cooper | Las Vegas Sands | Leon County Court | North Florida | Seminole Tribe of Florida
Jerad has been a welcomed addition to the LegalSportsBetting.com writing team. Covering topics regarding the expansion of sports betting in the US, Jerad focuses on legislative efforts, bill signings and other methods for sports betting legalization. Finishing his education as a college baseball player, Jerad has first-hand knowledge of competitive sports, paired with years of personal sports betting as well. As a political science major at the University of Central Florida, Jerad covers the political, legal, and legislative aspects of sports gambling without any issues.