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Gambling advocates seek oral argument against amendment

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Opponents of a proposed constitutional amendment on gambling are asking permission from the Florida Supreme Court to argue against it at a future hearing.

Marc Dunbar, a lawyer-lobbyist who represents dog and horse tracks, filed a request for oral argument Monday, court dockets show.

He filed on behalf of “Floridians for Clarity in Gaming Control.”

Dunbar’s brief describes it as “an unincorporated association of individuals and business sharing concerns regarding the proposed constitutional amendment,” ranging from “registered voters in Seminole County, Florida to arcade operators, members of Native American tribes, casino and lottery vendors and pari-mutuel permit holders.”

Miami attorney Dan Gelber filed his own request earlier this month on behalf of Voters In Charge, the committee behind the amendment.

The Voter Control of Gambling amendment would give Floridians more control over the expansion of gambling in the state.

Proposed amendments to the Constitution must be OK’d by the Supreme Court to ensure they cover only one subject and that their ballot title and summary aren’t misleading.

The amendment would “ensure that Florida voters shall have the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling,” the ballot summary says.

It’s aiming to get on the 2018 statewide ballot. Such initiatives need 60 percent approval to be added to the constitution.

Dunbar recently argued before the court in another case on expanding slot machines in the state. He represented Gretna Racing, a small north Florida track run by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

The Creeks say they should be allowed to offer slot machines because voters approved them in a local referendum in 2012.

A favorable ruling by the court, in that case, could expand slot machines to all six counties where voters passed slots referendums: Brevard, Gadsden, Hamilton, Lee, Palm Beach, and Washington.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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