Three questions for the candidates running for governor: Gambling

Gambling.
Poker chips. CD Davidson-Hiers/Florida Phoenix

Today in the Florida Phoenix, we continue our election series, where we ask three questions of the candidates for Florida governor, who face off in the Aug. 28 primary. Each day we’ll cover a different topic of interest to voters. Today we ask about gambling. 

The Republican candidates — Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis — chose not to participate in the “Three Questions” series. The five Democrats running for governor responded, and we present their answers in alphabetical order. 

1. Do you support Amendment 3, which would give voters the exclusive right authorize expansion of casino gambling in Florida?  

Andrew Gillum:

I am always in favor of the voters having a say on momentous issues in our state – casino gambling and its revenue potential is certainly worthy of that ideal. 

Gwen Graham:

I am against the expansion of gambling. 

Jeff Greene: 

I think that should be left up to local communities. I don’t like the state deciding on charter schools or on gambling. We don’t want to take away the rights of home rule, and the rights of communities to determine their own fate. Look, only you know in your community whether gambling is the kind of thing that would have a huge negative impact. I’m sitting in Palm Beach county. Somebody up in Tallahassee deciding there would be casinos and gambling carts established all around my kids and my community? If some community wants to do that, then I think that’s where it should come from. 

Chris King: 

I support Amendment 3. I am opposed to expanded gambling on the merits, and the types of jobs that it would generate are the exact problem we face in Florida today. We shouldn’t turn Florida into a casino and our state already suffers from a low-wage economy in Florida where half of the jobs pay less than $15 an hour. 

Philip Levine: 

No, I am against the expansion of gambling in Florida. 

2. Regarding sports gambling: The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that is now legal, and leaders in neighboring states have said they will advocate for its inclusion. What do you say about this new development?

Andrew Gillum:

While the ruling was a big decision, it’s unclear what impact it will have on Floridians between now and Election Day when Amendment 3 will be decided. We need to make sure all stakeholders are part of the conversation during session, including the Seminole Tribe and parimutuels, and public education must be a beneficiary of the new revenue – because our schools are chronically underfunded and our teachers and staff are criminally underpaid.  

Gwen Graham:

I am against the expansion of gambling. 

Jeff Greene:

I honestly haven’t spent a huge amount of time researching it but there is sports gambling in other places as we know. The first thing that I would do if elected governor… is I’ll look at how it’s worked out in other states that have had it. 

I mean, if it’s only positive, and all you’re doing is taking revenue that is otherwise going to other states and there is no increase in gambling among residents of that state; you’re not creating a bunch of gambling addicts who are losing everything that they in the states that have implemented this and it’s more revenue for the state? Then I’d say it’s something you ought to do. On the other hand, if I found that in states that have already done this that it’s caused a bunch of societal problems, then I’d probably be inclined not to do that.  

Chris King: 

I don’t believe Florida should be turned into a casino and oppose expanding gambling in the state- including sports betting. I support letting voters decide on these issues and not politicians.  

Philip Levine:  

It’s incumbent on states to have consumer protection laws in place and properly collect our fair revenue share when it comes to sports betting. With economists forecasting that Florida could see hundreds of millions in tax revenue, we must pass the necessary laws to ensure that the activity that already occurs and exists generates revenues we can invest in our public education system. 

This is revenue that should be used to only supplement, not supplant education funding–Floridians have had enough of the shell games with their tax dollars. 

3. Negotiations that would address the state’s agreement with the Seminole Tribe allowing for some expansion of casino’s have gone nowhere in the Legislature in recent years. If you’re in charge, where would you stand on this issue?

Andrew Gillum:

Again, it’s critical that we bring all stakeholders to the table for meaningful, productive conversations that yield casino gambling results that are in the best interests of Floridians and all parties.  

Gwen Graham:

I am against the expansion of gambling. 

Jeff Greene: 

I don’t gamble personally, I’ve never gambled, so I’m not the kind of person who likes to encourage gambling, I’m sure that most people can gamble and just walk away, so I get it, but some people can’t, and it ruins their lives, and so my feeling is I don’t really think that just because everybody else does it that – you know, my view as governor is sure, you need revenue, but you need to look at where you’re getting your revenue, and you want to make sure that you don’t have huge negative, unintended negative consequences just to generate revenue.  I would say the same thing as in question two: If expansion is only going to result in something good for the state, no negative societal implications, I’d be for it. 

Chris King:  

As mentioned above, I oppose the expansion of gambling and believe the Seminole Tribe should retain their rights. 

Philip Levine:

Instead of trying to shakedown the Seminole Tribe, we will shake their hands, and come to an agreement that benefits all parties. I do not believe in the expansion of casino gambling and will work with the Tribe to come to an agreement that works for all stakeholders. 

 

 

Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry has spent the past 18 years covering news and politics in the Sunshine State, most recently with FloridaPolitics.com. He worked for five years as the political editor of Creative Loafing in Tampa, and before that he was the assistant news director at WMNF radio, where he served as creator/anchor/producer of the hour-long WMNF Evening News. A San Francisco native, Mitch began his career at KPFA Radio in Berkeley in the 1990's.

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