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Tanner Andrews

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Generally, Floridians seem disinclined to allow gambling. I do not know if it is moral disapproval, or just not liking to see all that money sucked out of state, sent to addiction lords in Nevada, Iowa and upstate New York.

Still, much as voters hate gambling, out-of-state gambling barons love it. They fall all over themselves trying to coax voters to expand it. They even have two competing, and incompatible, plans to add new gambling crud to the Florida Constitution.

The first plan allows everything but sports betting. It requires that casinos apply from at least 130 miles from existing Seminole gambling hells. However, once they apply, they can move to be within that 130-mile radius. So, they could declare for Ormond Beach, and then put the casino in Orange City.

The second plan allows only sports betting, and they want it everywhere. Their definition of sports betting includes amateur, college, professional and Olympic sports, and car races and propositions. In fact, sports betting is pretty much anything including frog-jumping contests.

The group pushing this is called “Florida Education Champions.” They have the usual Tallahassee mail drop. And they still have time: I just got another mailer from them, asking me to sign and mail back their petition.

The promoters say their plan assures that “Floridians can choose the online sports betting app they want.” I did not know I even had a preferred sports betting app.

The promoters say gambling will be good for education. Perhaps most people have forgotten the lottery promotion; many were not born yet.

In 1986, the Legislature promised that the lottery would enhance education. There would be a special trust fund. The “Education Enhancement Trust Fund” exists even unto this day.

People voted for the lottery. The Legislature now “sweeps” trust money. That lets them use regular tax money for other priorities like Pave Florida 2019, or Bo’s Bridge, or the Tallahassee Taj.

Promoters rely on our Great-Aunt Gullible getting old and forgetful. She does not remember the lottery promises, nor does she know anyone who has kids in school. So she could well believe that sports betting will somehow enhance education.

Well, I still remember the disappointment of the lottery. I did not sign the petitions. I can tell what the sports-gambling promoters were thinking when they called themselves “Florida Education Champions” — maybe Floridians will learn their lesson this time!

— Andrews is a DeLand-area attorney and a longtime government critic. For purposes of the column, he finds it convenient that there is so much government to criticize



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