DESTIN — The City Council has unanimously approved an ordinance that prohibits most types of gambling in the city.
The ban took effect last Wednesday, immediately after the council approved the second and final reading of the ordinance. While the ordinance further strengthens Destin officials' stance against gambling in the city, that stance could be challenged in the years to come.
Prohibiting gambling activities in Destin is in the best interests of the city and its residents because “gambling exploits the poor and disadvantaged, the increased availability of gambling leads to gambling addiction and gambling attracts fraud and corruption,” officials said in a City Council agenda report.
The city’s land development code already had prohibited gambling industries and casino hotels in all zoning districts. The intent of the new ordinance is to “broadly prohibit any form of gambling” other than bingo games and state-administered lotteries within the city limits, according to city information.
No one from the public commented on the ordinance before the council voted on it.
“No gambling in Destin,” Mayor Gary Jarvis said after noting the council’s unanimous approval.
The U.S. Supreme Court in May overturned a federal law that barred sports betting in most states. Sports betting in Florida, however, would require state Legislature approval and have to overcome other hurdles.
On the Nov. 6 general election ballot, Florida voters will go to the polls to decide whether to approve state constitutional Amendment 3, the “Voter Approval of Casino Gambling Initiative.”
It would require approval of any new casino gambling through a citizen-initiative constitutional amendment, effectively barring the Legislature from making those gambling decisions by passing laws, according to the League of Women Voters of Florida.
Passage of the amendment requires the approval of at least 60 percent of the voters.
The measure would consider card games, casino games and slot machines to be casino gambling but would not impact casino gambling on Native American tribal lands established through state-tribe agreements, according to ballotpedia.org.