Florida voters just made it harder to alter its laws regarding gaming. What exactly does that mean for the future of sports betting from the state?
Florida and Amendment 3
On election night, as the majority of the nation was watching to see whether there was going to become an ideological change in Congress, many in the gaming industry were seeing a different race in Florida.
This race didn’t entail the election of an individual; the race was for Florida Amendment 3, a ballot measure that could shift the power from legislators to voters to authorize 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 gambling 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 gaming and explains that this amendment doesn’t conflict with federal legislation regarding state/tribal compacts.”
Where did the gambling amendment come out of?
Only two counties in Florida allow for”card games, casino games, and slot machines” in non-tribal owned centers.
In 2004, before the current tribal compacts, under the opinion of then-Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida voters in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties passed a ballot initiative which allowed for slot machines in racing and jai-alai facilities, which had functioned in the 2 decades prior.
The change effectively suggests that in order for the nation to expand casino gambling past the tribal casinos and existing racing and pari-mutuel centers, voters in Florida would need to initiate the process by collecting enough signatures to get the request added to a ballot.
“In Florida, the number of signatures necessary for an initiative is equal to 8 percent of those votes cast in the preceding presidential elections. Florida also has a signature distribution demand, which requires that signatures equal to 8% of the 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 needed to be able to get a casino expansion measure on a future ballot. This is an intimidating task, without thinking about the demand for geographic distribution, which can be demanded.
There are, though, a few Florida-based groups that may be able to back a campaign of sufficient size to gather these votes at a time in the future. Two that come into mind are Disney and the Seminole Tribe. Really, the two Disney and the Seminoles were major backers for departure Amendment 3, allegedly putting in tens of millions of dollars to support the measure’s passage.
The resistance saw support from smaller gaming suppliers such as West Flagler Associates and Hialeah Park, as well as the Miami Dolphins, that (in)famously tweeted an image that indicated the passage of Amendment 3″would effectively block any chance for lawful sports betting from Florida.”
If the language of Amendment 3 seems complicated, that’s because it’s. The language employed in the Amendment scored a grade-level position of 24 (the equivalent of having 24 decades of formal education or enough time to make a Ph.D.) according to 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 this mean that Florida can launch sports gambling soon?
What is’casino gambling’?
In accordance with Ballotpedia, Amendment 3 defines casino gaming as card games, casino games and slot machines. There’s absolutely no mention of sports betting. Therefore, while it can appear that Amendment 3 leaves open the question of whether Florida can offer sports gambling, it neglects the far larger issue, the fact that the State of Florida has a Class III gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe.
Sports gambling is Class III gaming according to this 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, such as but not Limited to —
(1) Card games such as baccarat, chemin de fer, blackjack (21), and pai gow (if performed as house banking matches );
(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 including but not Limited to wagering on horse racing, dog racing or jai alai; or
While Amendment 3 doesn’t restrict sports betting, the existing compact involving the Seminole Tribe and the State of Florida could impose some limitations.
What’s from the Florida gaming compact?
The Compact, which was signed in 2010 between the Seminole Tribe and the country (it had been amended in 2015 to add authorization for extra games), stated:
“It is 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 acknowledges that the Tribe’s right to provide certain Class III gambling and supplies substantial exclusivity of these activities in conjunction with a reasonable revenue sharing agreement between the Tribe and the State that will entitle the State to significant earnings participation.”
In the”Covered Games” part of this compact, there Is Not Any mention of sports gambling, but there is a statement that might seem to cover sports betting as within the covered games section:
“Any fresh game approved by Florida law for any individual for any purpose, except for banked card games authorized for any other federally recognized tribe pursuant to [the] Indian Gambling Regulatory Act, provided the tribe has land in federal trust in the State as of February 1, 2010.”
The tribe and the state agreed that the”Tribe is authorized to run Covered Games on Indian Lands….” While Part IV of this compact excludes numerous games such as roulette and craps (which were then allowed) there is no mention of sports gambling, as blatantly excluded.
The compact identifies seven Seminole-owned casinos which could be expanded or replaced but doesn’t authorize new construction outside the existing lands. In addition to abiding by state-sanctioned gaming rules, the tribe, in trade for”tight but Significant exclusivity,” agreed to cover:
$12.5 million each month during the first 24 months of the arrangement;
After that, 12 percentage of net wins 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 levels greater than $4.5 billion each revenue sharing cycle.
These obligations are due on the 15th of every month for twenty years by the initiation of the compact.
What about online gambling?
For those expecting for internet gaming, there’s a clause in the streamlined that statesif the state law has been altered to offer online gaming and tribal gambling revenue drops more than five percent from the past twelve monthsthe tribe gets to substantially reduce their payments to the state under the bonded minimums. Butthis won’t apply if the tribe provides online gambling, subject to express authorization.
In the event that the Seminole Tribe loses exclusivity, the state of Florida will be looking for a fresh 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 performance of Class III gaming or other casino-style gaming at any location under the jurisdiction of the State that wasn’t in operation at February 1, 2010, or (2) new forms of Class III gambling or alternative casino-style gaming which weren’t in operation as of February 1, 2010.”
If this happen, the tribe is eligible to cease some of their payments until such gambling is no longer operated. In the same way, if present non-tribal facilities in Broward and Miami-Dade counties extend their Course III offerings, the Seminole Tribe can decrease some of their obligations to the country as well.
So, about sports betting…
It’s unlikely that Florida will observe sports gambling being offered by any entity apart from 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 beneficial for the tribe. For an summary of how lucrative this compact is for the State of Florida in 2016, the Seminole Tribe paid more than $300 million into the state. The chance that Florida would endanger a portion of those payments to authorize something that would create as small extra state revenue as sports gambling is extremely unlikely.
While Florida sports betting fans shouldn’t hold their breath for widespread lawful sports betting, the Seminole Tribe could, under the compact, receive the ability to offer it in their seven casinos. While the Seminole Tribe has previously expressed an interest in being able to offer sports betting at its Florida Hard Rock possessions, they have recently been silent on the matter within the state of Florida.
Amendment 3 didn’t foreclose on any hope of sports betting in Florida. But under the present 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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