There is no way to look at Amendment 3 on the upcoming ballot as anything but an anti-gambling measure.
Yet, a main financial supporter of the amendment — to the tune of nearly $20 million so far — is the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Yes, the same folks that we all know already conduct the largest casino gambling operation in the state.
In fact, the revenue from the Seminole Tribe’s Hard Rock Casino in Tampa by itself dwarfs the revenue of all the pari-mutuel facilities in Florida combined, meaning the billions that the Seminole Tribe makes from its six other casinos in Florida is just icing on its already gigantic cake.
So, why would Florida’s largest gambling company spend nearly $20 million to support the adoption of an anti-gambling constitutional amendment?
The answer is easy: It is a universal truism that those who, like the Seminole Tribe, already possess the right to game are the most vehemently opposed to the granting of the same rights to others. Here, the Seminole Tribe, through the clever wording of Amendment 3, has dealt with its hypocritical stance on gambling by being expressly exempted from all of the amendment’s anti-gambling prohibitions — a sufficient enough inducement to invest nearly $20 million to prevent pari-mutuel facilities from securing the same gaming rights that the Seminole Tribe has exclusively possessed for years .
Because Amendment 3’s anti-gambling prohibitions were intentionally designed to apply only to the state’s pari-mutuel facilities while leaving the Seminole Tribe’s enormous gambling empire intact, the most obvious impact should Amendment 3 be adopted is that it will perpetuate the monopoly the Seminole Tribe already has on gambling in Florida. In fact, it is not a stretch to say that the Seminole Tribe already has it ALL, and now it wants even more.
More importantly to anyone involved in Florida’s once prospering thoroughbred industry, if Amendment 3 passes, the industry’s current downward spiral will become a death spiral. Just look at California, another state where gambling is also completely dominated by Indian tribes. Within the last few years, Hollywood Park and Bay Meadows were permanently closed, and Golden Gate Fields is on a death watch. Why is that? Because the California tribes, with their millions in campaign contributions, have, for anti-competitive reasons, successfully blocked any of California’s thoroughbred tracks from receiving a slot machine license. This, in turn, has caused the tracks to be unable to compete for gambling dollars with California’s 65-plus Indian casinos.
If this sounds familiar, there is a reason for it: Exactly what has happened in California has started to happen in Florida. We have already lost Hialeah Park as a thoroughbred track because it couldn’t compete, and now Calder has announced it will no longer conduct thoroughbred racing after 2020.
We can’t let what happened to thoroughbred racing in California happen in Florida.
While Amendment 3 may be cleverly worded to make it sound both pro-citizen and pro-democratic, in reality it’s just the opposite. Amendment 3 is simply another special interest con job – eerily similar to the bogus Solar Energy Amendment of 2016 that was soundly defeated once the voters figured out that the true sponsors of that amendment were the big power companies.
As with the solar scam, one can search all the pro-Amendment 3 propaganda and not find even one reference to the fact that one of the amendment’s primary supporters is Florida’s largest and most profitable casino operator, the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
Amendment 3 is totally misleading and hypocritical, yet very typical of the way sponsors of scam amendments like this one try to trick the voters.
If Amendment 3 is adopted, the Seminole Tribe and its 4,000 multimillionaire members will become even richer — while everyone associated with the billion-dollar thoroughbred industry will be obliterated.
Amendment 3 is nothing but a well-funded, anti-competitive con job. Save the thoroughbred horse racing industry in Florida by voting NO on Amendment 3.
— David S. Romanik has been a thoroughbred owner and breeder in Florida since 1983 and is the former president of Gulfstream Park Race Track.