HomePublicationsNewsletter ArchiveVolume 24Issue 34GAMBLING EXPANSION BALLOT PROPOSALS

Next Tuesday, November 6,  most voters will be deciding whether they want their state to be blue or red as numerous gubernatorial and state and federal senate and house seats will be up for grabs.  In addition to the election of officials, however, there are numerous states that have gaming-related ballot proposals and referendums—Arkansas, Idaho, Florida, Louisiana and Missouri.  Each proposal is briefly summarized below.

In Arkansas, voters will decide whether to expand casino gambling within the state.  The proposal would permit casino gambling at Oaklawn Park, a thoroughbred racing track in Hot Springs, and at a West Memphis racing track.  While both locations already offer video poker and other electronic games, if the proposal passes they would be allowed to introduce table games as well.  The proposal would also legalize one casino in Pope (within two miles of Russellville) and one in Jefferson (within two miles of Pine Bluff) counties, thereby increasing the number of casinos in the state by four.

In Idaho, voters will decide whether to authorize electronic games to display results of historical horse racing.  These games randomly select a video of a historical race.  Players are not shown information such as the location, date of the race, or names of horses and jockeys, but are shown generalized data on the field and a player, just as with pari-mutuel wagering, chooses the top three finishers in the race.  The player can then choose to view the entire race video or a shortened version showing the winners.

In Florida, there are two ballot proposals—one to limit any expansion of gaming in the state and another to ban greyhound racing by 2020.  Amendment 3 would provide voters with the exclusive right to authorize casino gambling through a citizen initiative process—the legislature would not be able to pass legislation to authorize casino gambling without a state-wide vote.  Casino gambling includes card games, casino games and slot machines, but excludes pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing, dog racing or jai alai.  Two of the largest contributors to the ballot measure committee supporting this initiative are Disney and the Seminole Tribe of Florida (who already have rights to operate casinos in the state because of a compact negotiated with Florida).  Amendment 13 would ban greyhound racing, phasing it out by 2020.

Louisiana has a ballot proposal related to fantasy sports that is a bit unusual.  Instead of a state-wide proposal, this ballot proposal provides the opportunity for each of Louisiana’s 64 parishes to decide if voters want to allow fantasy sports for cash prizes.  In a similar vote in the mid-1990s, 33 of the 64 parishes opted out of installing video poker machines.

Finally, Missouri has a ballot proposal that would amend the Missouri constitution to remove language limiting bingo game advertising.  The proposal follows a ruling by a court that the restriction on advertising was unconstitutional.  It would also allow a member of a licensed organization conducting bingo games to participate in the management of those games after being a part of the organization for six months.  The current language restricts the waiting period to two years.  Missouri law restricts operation of bingo games to charitable, religious, fraternal, veteran and service organizations which must use all the proceeds for their charitable or religious purposes.


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