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Florida Supreme Court schedules arguments on gambling control amendment

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The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments Nov. 2 on a proposed constitutional limit on gambling.

The state’s highest court will hear about 40 minutes of arguments over the Voter Control of Gambling amendment that seeks to give Florida voters a larger role in decisions to expand gambling. The measure is opposed by gambling interests, which believe the amendment would have “significant ramifications” for existing dog tracks, casinos, arcades and other gaming activity.

The court review of the ballot proposal was triggered when the group supporting the amendment, Voters in Charge, collected more than 10 percent of the 683,000 voter signatures necessary to place the measure on the 2018 ballot.

Opponents, which include the Jacksonville Kennel Club, Melbourne Greyhound Park and West Flagler Associates, argue that the measure violates the one-subject mandate for amendments to the state constitution and that the ballot title and summary are misleading.

Former state Sen. Dan Gelber, representing the pro-amendment group, defended the measure’s wording in a brief filed with the court.

“The ballot summary follows the amendment’s principle language nearly verbatim, so it fairly informs voters of the amendment’s chief purpose,” Gelber wrote.

If the Supreme Court approves the ballot language, the amendment supporters will then have to collect the more than 683,000 valid voter signatures by Feb. 1, 2018, in order to put the measure on the general election ballot in November.

If it reaches the ballot, the amendment will require support from at least 60 percent of the voters.

Lloyd Dunkelberger is a Tallahassee-based political reporter and columnist; he most recently served as Tallahassee bureau chief for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

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