Amendment 3: Voter Control of Gambling in Florida

The future of Florida gambling is in the hands of the voters

Ballot Language: This amendment ensures that Florida voters shall have the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling by requiring that, in order for casino gambling to be authorized under Florida law, it must be approved by Florida voters pursuant to Article XI, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution. Affects articles X and XI. Defines casino gambling and clarifies that this amendment does not conflict with federal law regarding state/tribal compacts.

How The Amendment Reached The Ballot: Citizen Initiative

What Your Vote Means: A Yes vote on this measure: gives Floridians the exclusive right to authorize casino gambling within the state. A No vote on this measure: keeps the right to authorize casino gambling with the legislature.

Pro: Amendment 3 gives Florida voters the ability to authorize any expansion of casino gambling. To pass any form of expansion, a 60 percent majority vote must exist. This measure shifts the policy decision from those elected to the voters directly. It also adds language to the Florida Constitution that limits “casino gambling” to: card games, casino games, slot machines, and other similar games. This citizen initiative does not apply to dog racing, horse racing, jai alai, etc. Supporters claim that Floridians should have the final word on casino gambling in the state. By putting the power in the hands of voters directly, Amendment 3 makes it less likely that special interests would be able to influence policy decisions regarding gambling. Advocates of the measure see this as an opportunity to preserve Florida’s “family friendly” culture. This effort comes at a crucial time after the Supreme Court legalized sports betting earlier this spring.

Con: Citizens elect representatives to serve on their behalf. If elected officials do not adequately execute the core functions of the job description, citizens have avenues to replace them. Holding a vote for any expansion of casino gambling leads to unnecessary referendums. The policy and lawmaking function has been delegated to our legislative branch of government. Further, this amendment severely regulates the gaming industry, an industry that could ultimately provide revenue streams to government. Skeptics claim that traditional gambling outlets know expansion would be more difficult via the populace at large. Therefore, it crystalizes the current gambling outlook in Florida for the foreseeable future. Any expansion of gambling would require a 60 percent approval from the voters—a difficult threshold to overcome. Putting the decision in the hands of Florida voters severely limits the potential gambling developments after the recent Supreme Court decision. Gambling already faces a litany of regulations, and this would create another hurdle


This amendment is reprinted with permission from the James Madison Institute’s 2018 Florida Constitutional Amendment Guide.