Gov­er­nor can­di­dates: Where they stand on sports bet­ting

Orlando Sentinel - - LOCAL & STATE - By Gray Rohrer

TAL­LA­HAS­SEE – Florida gov­er­nor can­di­dates’ views on le­gal­iz­ing sports gam­bling vary widely, rang­ing from out­right op­po­si­tion to vo­cal en­cour­age­ment.

A U.S. Supreme Court de­ci­sion re­leased Mon­day knocked down a law pro­hibit­ing bet­ting on sports, leav­ing it to the states to de­cide whether to ban the prac­tice. But the next leg­isla­tive ses­sion isn’t sched­uled until next year, when a new slate of law­mak­ers and gov­er­nor will be in place, giv­ing the in­com­ing gov­er­nor great in­flu­ence on the direc­tion Florida takes.

Demo­cratic can­di­dates Gwen Gra­ham, a for­mer con­gress­woman from Tal­la­has­see, and Chris King, a Win­ter Park real es­tate ex­ec­u­tive, are op­posed to le­gal­iz­ing sports bet­ting, or even ex­pand­ing any other form of gam­bling.

"Gwen is against ex­pand­ing gam­bling in Florida," said Gra­ham spokesman Matt Har­ringer.

A mea­sure that will appear on the bal­lot as Amend­ment 3 would take de­ci­sions re­gard­ing fu­ture ex­pan­sions of casino gam­bling out of the Leg­is­la­ture’s hands and put them be­fore vot­ers in ref­er­en­dums.

It’s un­clear if the amend­ment, which re­quires 60 per­cent of the vote to pass, would ap­ply to sports gam­bling, but King made it clear he sup­ports the amend­ment and op­poses any new gam­bling.

“Chris doesn't be­lieve Florida should be turned into a casino and op­poses ex­pand­ing gam­bling in the state –– in­clud­ing sports bet­ting,” King spokesman Avery Jaffe said. “He sup­ports Amend­ment 3 to let vot­ers de­cide on these issues and not politi­cians."

Agri­cul­ture Com­mis­sioner Adam Put­nam, a Bar­tow Re­pub­li­can, hailed the court’s de­ci­sion as a vic­tory for state’s rights but is still op­posed to le­gal­iz­ing sports gam­bling.

“I’ve al­ways be­lieved we must pro­tect our rep­u­ta­tion as a world-class, fam­ily-friendly des­ti­na­tion,” Put­nam said. “The U.S. Supreme Court rul­ing is a win for states’ rights, and Florid­i­ans will have a chance this Novem­ber to de­ter­mine the fu­ture of gam­bling in Florida.”

Tal­la­has­see Mayor Andrew Gil­lum, a Demo­crat, didn’t take a clear-cut po­si­tion but said any new rev­enues from tax­ing sports bets should go to schools.

“We have to make sure all stake­hold­ers are a part of those dis­cus­sions next year dur­ing ses­sion, and pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion must be a ben­e­fi­ciary of the po­ten­tial new rev­enue,” Gil­lum said. “Our schools are chron­i­cally un­der­funded and our teach­ers are crim­i­nally un­der­paid."

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is the only can­di­date to come out vo­cally in fa­vor of le­gal­iza­tion.

“Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has val­i­dated forms of sports bet­ting, it’s in­cum­bent on states to have con­sumer pro­tec­tion laws in place and prop­erly col­lect our fair rev­enue share,” Levine said. “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.”

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSan­tis, run­ning against Put­nam in the GOP pri­mary, was the only can­di­date whose campaign did not re­spond to re­quests from the Or­lando Sen­tinel.

DeSan­tis’ po­lit­i­cal com­mit­tee has re­ceived $100,000 from Lorenzo and Frank Fer­titta, own­ers of sev­eral Las Ve­gas casi­nos. Shel­don Adel­son, an­other casino mag­nate and big-money GOP donor, is a mem­ber of his fi­nance team, although he hasn’t per­son­ally do­nated to his campaign or com­mit­tee.

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