Florida voters just made it more challenging to alter its legislation concerning gambling. What exactly does that mean to the future of sports betting in the nation?
Florida and Amendment 3
On Friday evening, since the majority of the country was watching to see whether there was likely to be an ideological shift 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 step has been as follows:
«This change ensures that Florida voters shall 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 explains that this amendment doesn’t conflict with federal legislation regarding state/tribal compacts.»
Where did the gaming amendment come from?
Just two counties in Florida permit for»card games, casino games, casino games, and slot machines» at non-tribal owned facilities.
In 2004, before the present tribal compacts, under the watch of then-Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida voters in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties handed a ballot initiative that enabled for slot machines in racing and jai-alai facilities, which had functioned in the two years prior.
The amendment effectively suggests that in order for the state to expand casino gaming beyond 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 amount of signatures necessary to get an initiative is equivalent to 8 percent of the votes cast in the preceding presidential election. Florida also includes a signature supply demand, which requires that signatures equal to 8 percent of the district-wide vote in at least half (14) of the state’s 27 congressional districts have to be gathered.»
For reference, the 2016 Presidential election had 9,419,886 votes cast. Eight percent of this vote total is 753,591 signatures needed to be able to acquire a casino expansion step on a future ballot. This is a daunting endeavor, without thinking about the demand for geographic distribution, which can be required.
There are, however, a few Florida-based groups that may be able to back a campaign of adequate size to gather these votes at a time in the future. Two which come to mind are Disney and the Seminole Tribe. Really, both Disney and the Seminoles were important backers for passing Amendment 3, supposedly putting in tens of millions of dollars to encourage the measure’s passage.
The resistance saw assistance from smaller gambling providers including West Flagler Associates and Hialeah Park, as well as the Miami Dolphins, who (in)famously tweeted an image that implied the passage of Amendment 3″would effectively block any opportunity for lawful sports betting in Florida.»
If the language of Amendment 3 appears complicated, that is as it is. The language employed in the Amendment scored a grade-level position of 24 (the equivalent of getting 24 decades of formal schooling or enough time to earn a Ph.D.) according to Ballotpedia, which positions the readability of all ballot measures. Amendment 3 has been worded more complexly than others, with the typical ballot scoring between 19-20.
It does not require a Ph.D. to realize that the Amendment doesn’t mention sports. So, does this imply that Florida can start sports betting soon?
What is’casino gambling’?
In accordance with Ballotpedia, Amendment 3 defines casino gaming since card games, casino games and slot machines. There’s no mention of sports gambling. So, while it can seem that Amendment 3 leaves open the question of whether Florida can offer sports gambling, it neglects the far bigger problem, 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 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 as house banking matches );
(2) Casino games such as craps, blackjack, and keno;
(b) Any slot machines as defined 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 such as 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 between the Seminole Tribe and the State of Florida may impose some limitations.
What is in 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 include authorization for additional games), said:
«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 recognizes the Tribe’s right to provide certain Class III gambling and supplies substantial exclusivity of these actions along with a reasonable revenue sharing arrangement between the Tribe and the State that will entitle the State to significant earnings participation.»
In the»Covered Games» part of the compact, there Is Not Any mention of sports betting, but There’s a statement that might seem to cover sports gambling as within the coated games segment:
«Any fresh sport approved by Florida law for any person for any use, except for banked card games approved for any other federally recognized tribe pursuant to [the] Indian Gambling Regulatory Act, assuming that 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 Part IV of this compact excludes a number of games such as blackjack and roulette (which were subsequently allowed) there is no mention of sports gambling, as explicitly excluded.
The streamlined describes seven Seminole-owned casinos which could be enlarged or replaced but doesn’t authorize new construction outside the existing lands. In addition to abiding by state-sanctioned gaming principles, the tribe, in trade for»tight but substantial exclusivity,» agreed to pay:
$12.5 million per month during the first 24 weeks of the arrangement;
After that, 12 percent of internet wins on 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;
As much as 25 percent on all amounts larger than $4.5 billion per revenue sharing cycle.
These payments are due on the 15th of every month for twenty years by the initiation of this compact.
What about online gambling?
For those expecting for internet gaming, there is a clause in the streamlined that says : if the state law is changed to offer online gambling and tribal gambling revenue falls over five percent from the previous twelve months, the tribe has to considerably reduce their payments into the state below the guaranteed minimums. Butthis won’t apply if the tribe offers online gambling, subject to express authorization.
In case the Seminole Tribe loses exclusivity, the state of Florida will be in search of a new 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 operation of Class III gambling or other casino-style gambling at any place under the jurisdiction of the State that was not in operation at February 1, 2010, or (2) new forms of Class III gaming or other casino-style gaming that were not in operation at February 1, 2010.»
If this happen, the tribe is eligible to stop some of their payments until such gaming is no longer operated. Similarly, if present non-tribal facilities in Broward and Miami-Dade counties expand their Course III offerings, the Seminole Tribe can decrease some of their obligations to the country as well.
So, about sports gambling…
It’s unlikely that Florida will observe sports gambling being provided by any entity other than the Seminole Tribe.
The gambling compact negotiated between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida is rewarding for the state and extremely beneficial for the tribe. For an overview of how rewarding this compact is for the State of Florida in 2016, the Seminole Tribe paid more than $300 million to the state. The likelihood that Florida would endanger a portion of those payments to authorize something which would create as small additional state revenue as sports gambling is incredibly unlikely.
While Florida sports gambling fans shouldn’t hold their breath for widespread legal sports gambling, the Seminole Tribe can, under the compact, get the capability to offer it at their casinos. While the Seminole Tribe has expressed an interest in being able to provide sports gambling at its Florida Hard Rock properties, they have been quiet on the matter within the state of Florida.
Amendment 3 did not foreclose on any expectation of sports gambling in Florida. However, under the existing gaming compact terms, it would appear to be a costly undertaking for state lawmakers to permit someone aside from the Seminole Tribe to provide it entirely, a choice that would surely leave facilities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties unhappy.
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