Casinos will have a tougher time opening in Florida if a coalition of anti-gambling groups had its way.
The group, Voters in Charge, are planning to propose a constitutional amendment next year that would require additional gambling to get a statewide public referendum first before it can be allowed in Florida, Tampa Bay Times reported.
John Sowinski, chairman of the newly-formed coalition, told the news outlet: “Given the stakes involved and the money that the gambling industry puts into campaigns and lobbying, the people of Florida should have the final say on whether or not to legalize casino-style gambling.”
Sowinski said the group has already started collecting the required 700,000 signatures and more than 60,000 valid petitions to trigger a review by the Florida Supreme Court, according to the Palm Beach Post.
At least 60 percent of voters are needed to approve the amendment, but Sowinski believes they already have about 70 percent of support for their proposed measure.
The amendment, however, will not affect any gambling allowed on the property of Seminole Tribe of Florida, which had a gambling compact with the state of Florida. Sowinski said the measure will be a warning to state legislators who are considering expanding gambling as part of its negotiating talks with the tribe over a new deal.
The Seminole Tribe and the state government are currently at an impasse. Last Monday, the tribe filed a lawsuit ahead of the looming Oct. 29 deadline that could shut down table games at five of its seven facilities in the state, according to a Palm Beach Post report.
The two parties entered a compact in 2010, which gave the tribe exclusive rights to operate popular card games at its casinos in Broward County, Tampa, and Immokalee. In return, the tribe guaranteed $1 billion in state revenue.
The compact expired last July 30, and without a new deal, the Seminoles only has until the end of October to continue offering the games. The parties hope to finalize a new deal, but talks broke down during the regular legislative session last spring.
The tribe said it will continue offering the games, noting that it “has no option but to file in order to protect its interests and those of the 3,100 employees and their families whose jobs are in jeopardy,” according to the report.