History of the expansion of gambling in Florida
They’re from Las Vegas, and Malaysia, and they’re knocking on Florida’s door. Voters have turned outside casino bosses down 3 times – so now they want the politicians to legalize casinos instead. They’re making big promises. One is that we can trust them to keep casinos just in Dade and Broward Counties.
But if the history of gambling in Florida tells us one thing, it’s that if you give them an politicians inch, they’ll take a mile.
Voters have only approved 3 forms of gambling in Florida.
Way back when, voters in some communities approved local pari-mutuel facilities, which provided seasonal betting on horse races, greyhound races, and Jai Alai. Then, in 1986, Florida voters approved the Florida Lottery – described as a once-a-week drawing to help education. We all know how that promise turned out.
Finally, in 2004, by the narrowest of margins, voters approved slot machines at Dade and Broward pari-mutuel facilities. They promised taxpayers $500 million a year for education. The reality? Less than a quarter of that figure.
Those are the only 3 things voters approved – but then, the politicians added more…
Pari-mutuels lobbied for more gambling – so the legislature gave them simulcast betting. Cut their taxes, expanded their seasons. The once-a-week lottery? There are now 35 different scratch-off games. Powerball, Lotto, Mega Money, Fantasy 5, Play 3, Lucky Lines, Lucky 7 Raffle, and Advanced Play. Then Congress got into the act. In the late 1980s, they passed the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which says that if a form of gambling is legal in a state, the tribes must be allowed to have it – and tribes can have electronic versions too.
So the lottery and scratch off games meant the tribes got video lottery and video pull-tab machines – similar to slots.
Then the legislature legalized private poker betting. So the tribes got poker and video poker. The pari-mutuels complained to the legislature that they couldn’t compete with tribal poker, so the legislature gave pari-mutuels poker too.
And when voters approved slot machines for Dade and Broward County… you guessed it, the tribes got slots and other casino games too.