A new organization called Voters in Charge has begun circulating petitions for the purpose of putting a constitutional amendment before Florida voters that would give the state’s residents the exclusive authority to approve casino gambling. The amendment, titled the Voter Control of Gambling Amendment would then require proponents of Las Vegas style casino gambling to justify their position through the constitutional initiative’s open forum.

The proposed amendment would add greater clarity to the 1968 revision of the state’s Constitution which states that most forms of gambling are prohibited unless approved by voters. However, recent courtroom decisions have implied that the Florida Legislature can, without voter approval, legalize various forms of casino gambling without voter approval. Voters in Charge rejects the various legal interpretations.

In a recent statement by Voters in Charge Chairman John Sowinski, he states, “Given the stakes involved and the money that the gambling industry contributes to campaigns and lobbyists, Floridians should have the final say.”

Currently there are legal challenges in motion in at least five Florida counties, initiated for the most part by gambling businesses and supporters. The one of most concern to the Voters In Charge group is a Supreme Court case to decide whether to allow slots at pari-mutuel tracks. The proposed amendment is being readied if the Supreme Court ruling favors the casinos.

The organization plans to obtain at least 100,000 signatures to well cover the required 68,314 that must be approved and validated by election officials. Once achieved, the declared petitions will initiate a review of the amendment by the Florida Supreme Court.

Voters In Charge claim that support for the amendment consistently polls at about 70% approval.

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