The Florida Amendment Series: Amendment 13

The Florida Amendment Series: Amendment 13 

Bottom Line: This is the twelfth in a twelve-part series covering Florida’s proposed constitutional amendments. Amendments can be confusing enough to understand but could also further the confusion. While there were originally thirteen amendments scheduled for November’s ballot, a court ruling knocked the 8th off of the ballot. For that reason, you’ll see amendments 1 through 7 and 9 through 13. Each proposed amendment requires a minimum of 60% support to pass. Here’s how it will appear on the ballot: 

BALLOT TITLE: Ends Dog Racing  

BALLOT SUMMARY: Phases out commercial dog racing in connection with wagering by 2020. Other gaming activities are not affected.  

What changes if it passes:  

  • No additional licenses to operate commercial dog racing operations would be made available after December 31st, 2018. 

  • After December 31st, 2020 commercial dog racing would be prohibited by all operators. 

Thoughts: This is one is pretty clear. You’re either for the prohibition of dog racing in Florida or you’re not. Out of all of the amendments this cycle, I’ve had more people reach out to me on this one than any of the others. The lobby to pass this ban is extensive. I even had interest groups from outside of our state reach out to me in an effort to lobby me. To be clear, no one and certainly no outside interest group has or will influence me in making a recommendation on any voting decision. Florida is one of only six remaining states that allow dog racing. The trend has long been in to end the practice in the US.  

It’s easy for those who’re animal lovers to push for the eradication of these businesses. But then again what about those businesses? What about the thousands of people who work in the industry directly related to racing? It’s easy for the rest of us to vote them out of their jobs, businesses, and careers. I don’t take that lightly either. 

Here’s the thing. The truth about the dog racing in Florida is that it’s become more of a front for other forms of gambling due to Florida’s odd existing laws pertaining to gaming. Under current law, these types of establishments are the only ones that can operate card games and slots for stakes in Florida outside of casinos on Indian reservations. The truth is that for many years the overwhelming majority of the business for the industry has come from those games, not the dog racing.

I support the legalization of gaming in Florida, that would enable these establishments to fully transition their businesses into non-animal gaming. I support the passage of Amendment 13 to end the unnecessary dog racing that’s essentially a front to comply with existing law. 

Photo by: RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images

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