The Seminole Tribe owns and operates the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa, Florida. Photo: Judy Baxter

Seminole Tribe and Disney poured $10 million into campaign to limit new casinos

The Seminole Tribe and The Walt Disney Company are spending big in an attempt to limit the expansion of gaming in Florida.

The two entertainment giants each donated $5 million to a group called Voters in Charge, The Associated Press reported. That's a lot more than the $700,000 they had contributed together earlier this year.

The group is behind Amendment 3, a proposed amendment to the state constitution. If adopted, any new casino would be put to a vote of the people, and 60 percent of voters would have to agree to it.

“Over 1.1 million Floridians have gone on record wanting Florida voters, not Tallahassee politicians, to decide whether to legalize casino gambling,” John Sowinski, the chairman of Voters in Charge, said in a press release after the amendment was approved for the November ballot. “We now turn our full attention to building voter support for our amendment, and in the coming days we will formally launch our campaign for passage of Amendment 3.”

With its Class III gaming compact, the tribe was promised exclusivity in the southern part of Florida. A federal judge determined that the state violated the pledge by allowing the expansion of non-Indian gaming facilities.

Despite the victory, the tribe has continued sharing revenues with the state. Since 2010, when the compact was first signed, the state has received about $1.7 billion.

Just last month, the tribe and Gov. Rick Scott (R) extended the compact. The state expects to see more than $300 million a year under the agreement.

“The tribe is committed to its long term compact with the state of Florida and intends to continue making revenue sharing payments as spelled out in the agreement,” Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. said in an April 18 press release. “The gaming compact, which runs through the year 2030, is good for the people of Florida and good for the members of the Seminole Tribe.”

Under state law, the deal must be ratified by the Florida Legislature. Lawmakers were unable to do that when the tribe and the governor reached a prior agreement.

Read More on the Story:
Disney, Seminole tribe donate $5 million each to anti-gambling amendment (The Associated Press May 10, 2018)
Seminole Tribe agrees to keep sharing gaming revenue, but lawmakers want new deal (The Tampa Bay Times April 18, 2018)
Gov. Scott reaches deal with Seminole Tribe on gambling money (The News Service of Florida April 18, 2108)

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