The Seminole Tribe owns and operates the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Photo: Wally Gobetz

Seminole Tribe and Disney spend $15 million on anti-gaming campaign

A political committee backed by the Seminole Tribe and The Walt Disney Company continues to spend big in an effort to limit new casinos in Florida.

A group called Voters in Charge spent $15 million on advertising, The News Service of Florida reported. The money came out of funds the tribe and Walt Disney already donated to the effort.

The goal is to convince voters to approve Amendment 3 in November. If adopted, any new, non-Indian casino project would be put to a vote of the public and 60 percent of voters would have to agree to it.

"Simply put, it’s because Florida Amendment 3 is about returning the power to decide casino gambling proposals to The People," Voters in Charge said on Tuesday.

The amendment would not affect the tribe's six casinos in southern Florida. Those fall under a Class III gaming compact that promises regional exclusivity to the tribe in exchange for a share of the revenues.

Despite the pledge, the state authorized an expansion of non-Indian gaming in violation of the agreement, a federal judge ruled. And lawmakers have repeatedly proposed to expand gaming even more, which could hurt the tribe's enterprise.

The tribe, however, has continued to share revenues. Since 2004, more than $1.75 billion has gone to the state, according to Gov. Rick Scott (R), who is barred from seeking re-election due to term limits. He's instead a candidate for the U.S. Senate.

"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 a press release in April.

The compact does not expire until 2030, Osceola noted. But efforts to update the agreement have repeatedly failed in the Republican-controlled Legislature.

It's possible the incoming governor might be able to get a new compact through. The Republican candidate is Ron DeSantis, a current member of Congress. The Democratic candidate is Andrew Gillum.

Campaign records of Voters in Charge can be found on the Florida Department of State website. Documents indicate nearly $27 million has been raised by the committee -- the bulk donated by the Seminole Tribe and The Walt Disney Company.

Read More on the Story
Gambling opposition group spends $15 million on ads (The News Service of Florida August 28, 20180

Join the Conversation

Related Stories
Seminole Tribe spends another $5 million to protect gaming empire (August 14, 2018)
Seminole Tribe and Disney poured $10 million into campaign to limit new casinos (May 10, 2018)