The Tampa Bay news outlet baynews9/news13 commissioned SurveyUSA to conduct a poll of 2,450 likely voters statewide from March 4th through the 6th and found that the majority of Floridians, across party lines, are in favor of legalizing casino gambling in the state. The most recent poll shows 53% of respondents in support with 34% in opposition and 14% unsure (all numbers rounded).
The results nearly mirror and are in line with a poll conducted in late December by Tampa Bay Times/10News WTSP that showed a more even division when 45% favored and 44% were opposed to expanded gambling in local Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. Both are in stark contrast to claims by opposition group, Voter Control who refer to numbers saying fully 72% of Floridians believe there is ‘just enough or too much’ gambling in the state already.
The numbers come at a time when Legislators have run out the clock on a $3 billion gambling proposal hammered out by Gov. Rick Scott and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The legislative session ends Friday and supporters of the measure pronounced it DOA at the end of last week. The tribe’s 5-year gambling compact expired in July with a grace period extending sanctioned casino gambling into October. The tribe has continued to give lawmakers a share of revenues, but may be forced to lay off thousands of employees at any time.
Republican political analyst Chris Ingram told baynews9 that lobbyists on both sides of the issue are influencing lawmaker’s votes, “It’s one of those issues that they would love to have never have decided because every year the issue is not decided means it’s going to be brought up the next year and the powers that be on both sides will continue to make their bank accounts flush with cash,” said Ingram.
Gov. Scott will be presented with a record $82.3 billion budget by lawmakers who passed the bill in the late hours Tuesday. Some analysts are predicting that the governor may veto the bill, sending lawmakers into a special session with the potential for a government shutdown. Not only did lawmakers fail to act on the governor’s hard fought gaming compact that would see a minimum of $3 billion handed over by the Seminoles, they also gutted Scott’s $1 billion in business friendly tax cuts. Depending upon his political will and capital, a special session could see the gambling bill resurrected.