Posted on Apr 2, 2022 at 3:29 am.
Last updated on: Apr 2, 2022 03:29 am.
After months of legal wrangling and heavy spending, Las Vegas Sands is dropping efforts to ask Florida voters a ballot question about a new casino resort in the northern part of the state this year.
The effort pitted Sands against the Seminole Tribe of Florida — the state’s dominant casino operator. The largest gaming company by market cap backed an effort that would have allowed Florida’s cardrooms to offer more Las Vegas-style gaming facilities. As seen in other states across the country that lack commercial casinos, tribal operators shy away from such efforts and seek to protect their monopolies.
Casino games in Florida are dominated by the Seminole tribe, who operate under the Hard Rock brand. They control everything except Miami-Dade and Broward counties in the southern part of the state. There slot machines and table games are allowed in racinos.
Sands was rumored to be backing the liberalization of Florida’s gaming laws as part of a plan to potentially bring an integrated resort to Jacksonville — a far cry from Hard Rock gaming properties.
According to some estimates, both LVS and the Seminoles spent heavily on this problem. Florida Electoral Commission data shows that Sands spent at least $73 million supporting a political action committee (PAC) called the Florida Voters in Charge, while the tribe spent at least $40 million to prevent it the question will be put on the ballot in November. The fight took on an increasingly unsavory tone in recent months.
The casino initiative clash brought Las Vegas Sands Corp. against the Seminole Tribe of Florida and included allegations of death threats against workers collecting signatures for the election proposal and allegations that advocates of the measure are violating state law by paying workers with the signature,” reports Dara Kam for the Florida Intelligence Service.
LVS had to try the ballot plan because Floridians approved Amendment 3 in 2018, which puts casino expansion in the hands of voters.
Sands missed the 900,000 signatures required by February 1. The company asked Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper to extend the deadline, but he denied the request.
For LVS, Florida is dead this year
said Florida Voters in Charge spokeswoman Sarah Bascom Florida Intelligence Service that the group is in the process of going out of business.
However, it’s not clear if Las Vegas Sands will make a similar attempt again in 2024.
Currently the operator is not engaged in the US. It’s well known that LVS aims to bring an integrated resort to Texas, but some politicians there oppose those efforts. Additionally, the company is thought to be interested in a casino in New York City, but it’s not clear how policymakers there will approach gaming expansion.