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Jax Daily Record Monday, Jun. 13, 201612:00 PM EST

Pari-mutuel facilities try to block gambling ballot initiative

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Pari-mutuel facilities are asking the Florida Supreme Court to reject a proposed constitutional amendment that seeks to make it harder to expand gambling in the state.

Six pari-mutuel operators filed a brief arguing the wording of the proposed amendment, known as “Voter Control of Gambling in Florida,” does not meet legal requirements to go on the 2018 ballot.

The proposal would require future statewide votes to authorize casino-style games including blackjack, craps and roulette.

The amendment, which has received financial backing from the group No Casinos Inc., would take away the Legislature’s ability to approve casinos in Florida but would not affect tribal casino operations, which are regulated by federal law.

The pari-mutuels argued in the brief the proposal would be misleading to voters, does not fully explain the potential ramifications if the amendment passes and improperly lumps together two subjects.

“(The) ballot summary fails to fully and accurately explain the ramifications of the gambling amendment on certain gaming activities — including card games, charitable bingo, lotteries, and sweepstakes — that are currently authorized under Florida law,” the brief said.

“For example, the ballot summary and the supporting text of the gambling amendment do not indicate whether the law intends to be prospective or retrospective, causing an unfair and misleading presentation to the voters on the status of existing law,” the brief said.

The brief was filed on behalf of Jacksonville Kennel Club Inc., Dania Entertainment, LLC, Investment Corporation of Palm Beach, West Flagler Associates, Ltd., Bonita-Fort Myers Corporation and Melbourne Greyhound Park, LLC, all of which operate pari-mutuel facilities.

The Supreme Court must sign off on the wording of proposed constitutional amendments before they can go on the ballot.

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