Fate of gambling expansion in Florida

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Florida lawmakers can add whatever gambling that gets a majority vote. Proposals earlier this year included a new casino in south Florida and more gambling at dog tracks.

The idea died in the final hours of the session, in part over fears the state would lose $300 million from the Seminole Tribe. Barry Richard, the tribe's attorney says the voter control amendment could change that.

"There could be no expansion of gaming beyond the Tribe's seven reservations without a vote of the people," said Richard.

The Tribe hasn't taken an official position on the voters control proposal, yet, but Floridians are signing on at a steady pace. The amendment is nearing 200,000 signatures. It's a far shot from the required 766,000.

"At the pace that the petitions are being gathered and sent to the Supervisors of Elections Office for validation, I believe there is adequate time to get the voter control of gambling amendment on the ballot," said Paul Seago with Voters in Charge.

Opponents fear the passage of the amendment would automatically throw out previous votes allowing slot machines and pari-mutual card rooms.

"This impacts hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs depending on how you apply it," said Marc Dubar, an attorney representing Gambling Interests.

When the Supreme Court approved the language voters will see in November, Voters in Charge argued it's still unclear if the amendment would be retroactive.

"There will surely be robust legal dispute as to how it impacts existing gaming laws and existing gambling facilities," said Adam Schachter, an attorney representing Voters in Charge.

Voters in Charge has until February first to collect and verify nearly six hundred thousand more signatures.