Florida voters just made it harder to change its laws concerning gaming. What exactly does that mean for the future of sports gambling from the nation?
Florida and Amendment 3
On election night, as most of the country was observing to see whether there was likely to become an ideological change in Congress, many in the gambling industry were seeing another race in Florida.
This race didn’t involve the election of a person; the race was for Florida Amendment 3, a ballot measure that would shift the power from legislators to voters to authorize new casino gaming in the state.
The language of this measure was as follows:
“This change ensures that Florida voters will have the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gaming by requiring that in order for casino gaming to be approved under Florida law, it must be approved by Florida voters pursuant to Article XI, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution. Affects articles X and XI. Defines casino gambling and clarifies that this amendment doesn’t conflict with federal legislation regarding state/tribal compacts.”
Where did the gambling amendment come from?
Only two counties in Florida allow for”card games, casino games, and slot machines” at non-tribal owned facilities.
In 2004, ahead of the current tribal compacts, under the watch of then-Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida voters in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties passed a ballot initiative that allowed for slot machines in racing and jai-alai centers, which had operated in the two years prior.
The amendment effectively suggests that in order for the state to expand casino gambling beyond the tribal casinos and present racing and pari-mutuel centers, voters in Florida would have to initiate the process by collecting enough signatures to get the request added into a ballot.
“In Florida, the number of signatures required for an initiative is equal to 8% of the votes cast in the previous presidential elections. Florida also includes a signature supply requirement, which requires that signatures equivalent to 8 percent of their district-wide vote in at least half (14) of the nation’s 27 congressional districts have to be collected.”
For reference, the 2016 Presidential election had 9,419,886 votes cast. Eight percent of the vote total is 753,591 signatures required in order to get a casino growth measure on a future ballot. This is a daunting endeavor, without considering the demand for geographic distribution, which can be demanded.
There are, however, a couple of Florida-based groups that might be able to back a campaign of adequate size to collect these votes at one time later on. Two which come into mind are Disney and the Seminole Tribe. Really, both Disney and the Seminoles were major backers for passing Amendment 3, allegedly putting in tens of millions of dollars to encourage the measure’s passage.
The resistance saw support from smaller gambling suppliers such as West Flagler Associates and Hialeah Park, as well as the Miami Dolphins, who (in)famously tweeted out an image that implied that the passage of Amendment 3″would block any chance for legal sports betting from Florida.”
In the event the language of Amendment 3 seems complicated, that’s as it is. The language used in the Amendment scored a grade-level position of 24 (the equivalent of having 24 decades of formal education or sufficient time to earn a Ph.D.) based on Ballotpedia, which ranks the readability of all ballot measures. Amendment 3 was worded more complexly than others, with the average ballot scoring between 19-20.
It does not take a Ph.D. to see that the Amendment doesn’t mention sports. So, does that mean that Florida can launch sports gambling shortly?
What is’casino gambling’?
According to Ballotpedia, Amendment 3 defines casino gambling as card games, casino games and slot machines. There’s no mention of sports gambling. So, while it may appear that Amendment 3 leaves open the question of whether Florida can provide sports betting, it fails the much bigger issue, that the State of Florida has a Class III gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe.
Sports betting is Class III gaming based on the Federal Register:
Class III gaming means all forms of gaming that are not class I gaming or class II gaming, including but not limited to:
(a) Any house banking game, including but not Limited to —
(1) Card games like baccarat, chemin de fer, blackjack (21), and pai gow (if played as house banking matches );
(2) Casino games such as craps, blackjack, and keno;
(b) Any slot machines as described in 15 U.S.C. 1171(a)(1) and electronic or electromechanical facsimiles of any game of chance;
(c) Any sports betting and parimutuel wagering including but not Limited to wagering on horse racing, dog racing or jai alai; or
While Amendment 3 doesn’t restrict sports gambling, the present compact between the Seminole Tribe and the State of Florida could impose some restrictions.
What’s from the Florida gaming streamlined?
The Compact, which was signed in 2010 between the Seminole Tribe and the state (it had been amended in 2015 to add authorization for additional games), stated:
“It’s in the best interests of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the State of Florida for the State to enter into a compact with the Tribe that recognizes the Tribe’s right to offer certain Class III gaming and supplies substantial exclusivity of such actions in conjunction with a reasonable revenue sharing agreement between the Tribe and the State that will entitle the State to significant revenue participation.”
From the”Covered Games” section of the compact, there is no mention of sports gambling, but There’s a statement that would seem to cover sports betting as inside the coated games segment:
“Any new sport authorized by Florida law for any individual for any purpose, except for banked card games approved for any other federally recognized tribe pursuant to [the] Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, assuming that the tribe has property in federal trust in the State as of February 1, 2010.”
The tribe and the state agreed that the”Tribe is authorized to operate Covered Games on Indian Lands….” While Part IV of the compact excludes a number of games such as blackjack and roulette (which were then allowed) there isn’t any mention of sports gambling, as explicitly excluded.
The streamlined describes seven Seminole-owned casinos that can be expanded or replaced but does not authorize new construction outside the present lands. In addition to abiding by state-sanctioned gaming rules, the tribe, in exchange for”tight but Significant exclusivity,” agreed to pay:
$12.5 million per month during the initial 24 months of the agreement;
After that, 12 percent of net wins on all amounts up to $2 billion;
15 percent on internet wins between $2 and $3 billion;
17.5 percent on net wins between $3 billion and $3.5 billion;
Up to 25 percent on all amounts greater than $4.5 billion per revenue sharing cycle.
These obligations are due on the 15th of each month for twenty five years from the initiation of this compact.
What about online gaming?
For those hoping for internet gambling, there’s a clause in the streamlined that says if the state law has been changed to provide online gambling and tribal gambling revenue falls over five percent from the past twelve monthsthe tribe gets to considerably decrease their payments to the state under the bonded minimums. However , this won’t apply if the tribe provides online gambling, subject to express consent.
In the event that the Seminole Tribe loses exclusivity, the state of Florida will be in search of a new source of revenue. Part XII Section A. of the Compact states:
“If, after February 1, 2010, Florida law is amended by action of the Florida Legislature or an amendment to the Florida Constitution to allow (1) the operation of Class III gaming or other casino-style gambling at any place under the authority of this State that wasn’t in operation as of February 1, 2010, or (2) new forms of Class III gaming or alternative casino-style gaming which weren’t in operation as of February 1, 2010.”
If this happen, the tribe is entitled to cease some of their payments until such gaming is no longer operated. Similarly, if existing non-tribal facilities in Broward and Miami-Dade counties expand their Course III offerings, the Seminole Tribe can reduce some of their payments to the state also.
So, about sports gambling…
It’s unlikely that Florida will observe sports gambling being offered by any thing other than the Seminole Tribe.
The gaming compact negotiated between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida is rewarding for the nation and extremely helpful for the tribe. For an overview of how lucrative this compact is to get the State of Florida at 2016, the Seminole Tribe paid over $300 million to the nation. The chance that Florida would endanger a portion of those payments to authorize something which would generate as little extra state revenue as sports gambling is incredibly unlikely.
While Florida sports gambling fans should not hold their breath for widespread lawful sports betting, the Seminole Tribe could, under the streamlined, receive the ability to provide it at their casinos. While the Seminole Tribe has previously expressed an interest in being able to provide sports betting at its Florida Hard Rock possessions, they have been quiet on the matter inside the state of Florida.
Amendment 3 didn’t foreclose on any hope of sports betting in Florida. However, under the existing gaming compact provisions, it would appear to be a costly undertaking for state lawmakers to allow someone aside from the Seminole Tribe to provide it entirely, a choice that would surely render facilities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties unhappy.
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