Las Vegas Sands-backed Ballot Measure Draws Florida Court Scrutiny

Written By Brant James on January 12, 2022 - Last Updated on January 28, 2022
Sands Las Vegas Corp On Phone For News Article

The group promoting a proposed constitutional amendment that would expand casino gambling in north Florida has apparently acquired the needed signatures to gain judicial scrutiny. Whether it attains the number required to vote for the citizens remains questioned.

There’s also a looming court battle as the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Florida Voters in Charge tussle in court.

The proposal would allow pari-mutuel operators to expand their gambling operations. Furthermore, it will include the type of casino-style gambling currently the province only of the Seminoles.

In addition, Florida Voters in Charge, which Las Vegas Sands, Corp. has almost completely bankrolled, submitted the required 222,898 signatures to the Florida Secretary of State at the end of 2021. Furthermore, it to garner a review request from state officials on Dec. 10.

The group needs 891,589 verified signatures by Feb. 1 to put the measure on the ballot. Most legal watchers in Florida placed that deadline at Dec. 31, 2021 because the signature-verification process is so lengthy.

Florida officials to determine the legality of the ballot proposal, legitimacy of signatures

As that process began, Attorney General Ashley Moody on Jan. 7 asked the Florida Supreme Court to parse the proposed amendment’s language to determine its legality. 

Critical in the review will be whether the proposal is too narrow in scope or misleading in its wording.

According to the website, Florida Voters in Charge had submitted 425,523 signatures to the Department of Elections on Jan. 12.

Las Vegas Sands has so far poured more than $51 million in donations into the campaign to land the question on the ballot. Florida voters in 2019 overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment that requires their sign-off on an expansion of gambling in Florida.

The two have been opponents of the since-voided 2021 compact between the Seminoles and the state. In other words, they have pointed to the amendment as definitive on the subject.

However, after a series of federal court defeats forced the Seminoles to cease offering mobile sports betting in Florida, outside operators like DraftKings and FanDuel have underwritten a campaign to put sports betting on the ballot, too.

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Brant James

Brant James is a veteran journalist who has twice been recognized in the Associated Press Sports Editors Awards, most recently in 2020. He's covered motorsports, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball among a myriad of others beats and written enterprise and sports business for publications including USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com.

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