Florida voters simply made it harder to alter its legislation regarding gambling. What exactly does that mean to the future of sports gambling in the state?
Florida and Amendment 3
On Friday evening, as the majority of the country was watching to see if there was likely to be an ideological shift in Congress, many in the gambling industry were watching a different race in Florida.
This race didn’t involve the election of an individual; the race was for Florida Amendment 3, a ballot measure that would shift the power from legislators to voters to authorize brand new casino gambling in the nation.
The language of this step was as follows:
“This amendment ensures that Florida voters shall have the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling by requiring that in order for casino gaming to be authorized under Florida law, it has to be approved by Florida voters pursuant to Article XI, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution. Affects articles X and XI. Defines casino gaming and clarifies that this amendment does not conflict with federal law concerning state/tribal compacts.”
Where did the gambling amendment come out of?
Just two counties in Florida permit for”card games, casino games, and slot machines” in non-tribal owned facilities.
In 2004, ahead of the present tribal compacts, under the watch of then-Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida voters in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties handed a ballot initiative which enabled for slot machines in racing and jai-alai facilities, which had functioned in the 2 years prior.
The amendment effectively means that in order for the nation to expand casino gaming beyond the tribal casinos and existing racing and pari-mutuel centers, voters in Florida would have to initiate the procedure by collecting enough signatures to get the request added to a ballot.
“In Florida, the amount of signatures necessary to get an initiative is equivalent to 8% of the votes cast in the preceding presidential elections. Florida also includes a signature supply demand, which requires that signatures equal to 8% of their district-wide vote in at least half (14) of the nation’s 27 congressional districts must be gathered.”
For reference, the 2016 Presidential election had 9,419,886 votes cast. Eight percent of the vote total is 753,591 signatures required to be able to acquire a casino growth measure on a future ballot. This is a daunting endeavor, without thinking about the demand for geographic distribution, which can be required.
There are, though, a few Florida-based groups that may have the ability to back a campaign of adequate size to gather these votes at one time in the future. Two that come into mind are Disney and the Seminole Tribe. Really, the two Disney and the Seminoles were important backers for departure Amendment 3, supposedly putting in tens of millions of dollars to support the measure’s passage.
The resistance saw support from smaller gambling providers such as West Flagler Associates and Hialeah Park, in addition to the Miami Dolphins, that (in)famously tweeted an image that implied the passing of Amendment 3″would effectively block any chance for legal sports gambling from Florida.”
In the event the language of Amendment 3 appears complicated, that is as it’s. The language used in the Amendment scored a grade-level position of 24 (the equivalent of getting 24 decades of formal schooling or sufficient time to earn a Ph.D.) based on Ballotpedia, which ranks the readability of ballot measures. Amendment 3 has been 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 does not mention sports. So, does this mean that Florida can launch sports gambling shortly?
According to Ballotpedia, Amendment 3 defines casino gaming since card games, casino games and slot machines. There’s absolutely no mention of sports betting. So, while it can appear that Amendment 3 leaves open the question of whether Florida can offer sports betting, it fails the far larger problem, 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 Aren’t class I gaming or class II gaming, including but not limited to:
(a) Any home banking game, including but not Limited to —
(1) Card games like baccarat, chemin de fer, blackjack (21), and pai gow (if performed house banking games);
(2) Casino games like roulette, craps, 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 gambling and parimutuel wagering such as but not Limited to wagering on horse racing, dog racing or jai alai; or
While Amendment 3 does not limit sports gambling, the existing compact between the Seminole Tribe and the State of Florida could impose a few restrictions.
What is from the Florida gaming streamlined?
The Compact, which was signed in 2010 between the Seminole Tribe and the country (it was amended in 2015 to add authorization for extra games), said:
“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 gambling and provides substantial exclusivity of these actions along with a sensible revenue sharing arrangement between the Tribe and the State that will entitle the State to significant revenue participation.”
In the”Covered Games” section of this compact, there Is Not Any mention of sports betting, but There’s a statement that would seem to cover sports gambling as inside the covered games section:
“Any new game authorized by Florida law for any person for any purpose, except for banked card games approved for any other federally recognized tribe pursuant to [the] Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, provided the tribe has land in federal trust in the State at February 1, 2010.”
The tribe and the state agreed that the”Tribe is authorized to operate Covered Games on Indian Lands….” While Section IV of the compact excludes numerous games such as roulette and craps (which were subsequently allowed) there is no mention of sports betting, as explicitly excluded.
The compact identifies seven Seminole-owned casinos which can be enlarged or replaced but does not authorize new construction outside the existing lands. In addition to abiding by state-sanctioned gaming principles, the tribe, in trade for”partial but Significant exclusivity,” agreed to pay:
$12.5 million per month during the initial 24 months of the agreement;
After that, 12 percentage of internet wins all sums 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 larger than $4.5 billion each earnings sharing cycle.
These obligations are due on the 15th of every month for twenty five years from the initiation of the compact.
What about online gambling?
For those hoping for internet gaming, there’s a clause in the compact that says if the state law is altered to offer online gaming and tribal gaming revenue falls over five percent from the previous twelve monthsthe tribe has to considerably reduce their payments to the state below the guaranteed minimums. However this won’t apply if the tribe offers online gambling, subject to state consent.
In case the Seminole Tribe loses exclusivity, the state of Florida will be in search of a fresh source of earnings. 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 permit (1) the performance of Class III gambling or other casino-style gambling at any place under the jurisdiction of this State that wasn’t in operation as of February 1, 2010, or (2) new forms of Class III gambling or other casino-style gaming which were not in operation as of February 1, 2010.”
Should this occur, the tribe is entitled to stop some of their payments until such gaming is no longer operated. Similarly, if existing non-tribal centers in Broward and Miami-Dade counties extend their Class III offerings, the Seminole Tribe can decrease some of their obligations to the state as well.
So, about sports betting…
It’s not likely that Florida will see sports gambling being offered by any entity other than the Seminole Tribe.
The gambling compact negotiated between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida is lucrative for the state and extremely helpful for the tribe. For an overview of how lucrative this compact is for the State of Florida in 2016, the Seminole Tribe paid over $300 million into the state. The likelihood that Florida would undermine even a portion of those payments to authorize something which would create as little extra state revenue as sports betting is incredibly unlikely.
While Florida sports betting fans shouldn’t hold their breath for widespread legal sports betting, the Seminole Tribe can, under the streamlined, get the ability to provide it in their casinos. While the Seminole Tribe has expressed an interest in being able to provide sports betting at its Florida Hard Rock possessions, they have been quiet on the issue within the state of Florida.
Amendment 3 didn’t foreclose on any expectation of sports betting in Florida. However, under the present gaming compact provisions, it would appear to be a costly undertaking for state lawmakers to allow someone other than the Seminole Tribe to offer it exclusively, a decision that would surely leave facilities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties unhappy.
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