Florida voters simply made it more challenging to change its laws regarding gambling. What does that mean to the future of sports gambling from the nation?
Florida and Amendment 3
On Friday evening, as most of the country was watching to see whether there was likely to be an ideological change in Congress, many in the gaming industry were seeing a different race in Florida.
This race did not involve the election of an individual; the race was for Florida Amendment 3, a ballot measure that would change the power from legislators to voters to authorize new casino gambling in the nation.
The language of this measure has been as follows:
“This amendment 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 clarifies that this amendment does not conflict with federal law concerning state/tribal compacts.”
Where did the gambling amendment come out of?
Only two counties in Florida permit for”card games, casino games, and slot machines” in non-tribal owned facilities.
In 2004, before the present tribal compacts, under the opinion of then-Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida voters in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties handed a ballot initiative that allowed for slot machines at racing and jai-alai facilities, which had operated in the 2 years prior.
The amendment effectively means that in order for the state to expand casino gaming beyond the tribal casinos and present racing and pari-mutuel facilities, voters in Florida would need to initiate the procedure by collecting enough signatures to get the petition added to a ballot.
“In Florida, the amount of signatures necessary for an initiative is equivalent to 8 percent of those votes cast in the previous presidential elections. Florida also includes a signature supply requirement, which requires that signatures equivalent to 8 percent of the district-wide vote at at least half (14) of the nation’s 27 congressional districts have to 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 expansion measure on a future ballot. This is a daunting endeavor, without considering the need for geographic distribution, which can be required.
There are, however, 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 to mind are Disney and the Seminole Tribe. Really, the two Disney and the Seminoles were major 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 suppliers including West Flagler Associates and Hialeah Park, in addition to the Miami Dolphins, who (in)famously tweeted out an image that indicated the passing of Amendment 3″would block any chance for legal sports gambling from Florida.”
If the language of Amendment 3 appears complicated, that is as it is. The language used in the Amendment scored a grade-level rank of 24 (the equivalent of getting 24 decades of formal education or enough time to make a Ph.D.) based on Ballotpedia, which ranks the readability of all ballot measures. Amendment 3 was worded more complexly than many others, together with the typical ballot scoring between 19-20.
It does not take a Ph.D. to see that the Amendment doesn’t mention sports. So, does that imply that Florida can launch sports gambling shortly?
According to Ballotpedia, Amendment 3 defines casino gambling 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 betting, it fails the much larger problem, that the State of Florida has a Class III gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe.
Sports betting is Class III gambling 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 home banking game, including but not limited to —
(1) Card games such as baccarat, chemin de fer, blackjack (21), and pai gow (if performed 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 gambling and parimutuel wagering such as but not limited to wagering on horse racing, dog racing or jai alai; or
While Amendment 3 doesn’t limit sports gambling, the present compact between the Seminole Tribe and the State of Florida may impose a few limitations.
What is in 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 include 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 recognizes the Tribe’s right to provide certain Class III gambling and supplies substantial exclusivity of such actions in conjunction with a sensible revenue sharing arrangement 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 covered games section:
“Any fresh sport approved by Florida law for any individual for any use, except for banked card games approved for any other federally recognized tribe pursuant to [the] Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, assuming that 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 Section IV of this compact excludes a number of games including blackjack and roulette (which were then allowed) there is no mention of sports betting, as explicitly excluded.
The streamlined identifies seven Seminole-owned casinos that 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 exchange for”partial but Significant exclusivity,” agreed to pay:
$12.5 million per month during the initial 24 weeks of the arrangement;
After that, 12 percent of internet wins on all amounts up to $2 billion;
15 percent on net wins between $2 and $3 billion;
17.5 percent on internet wins between $3 billion and $3.5 billion;
As much as 25 percent on all amounts larger than $4.5 billion per earnings sharing cycle.
These obligations are due on the 15th of each 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 says : if the state law has been altered to offer online gaming and tribal gaming revenue drops more than five percent from the previous twelve monthsthe tribe has to substantially decrease their payments into the country under the bonded minimums. But, this won’t apply if the tribe offers online gambling, subject to express authorization.
In the event that the Seminole Tribe loses exclusivity, the state of Florida will be looking for a new source of revenue. Part XII Section A. of the Compact states:
“If, after February 1, 2010, Florida legislation is amended by action of the Florida Legislature or an amendment to the Florida Constitution to permit (1) the operation of Class III gaming or other casino-style gambling at any place under the authority of this State that was not in operation at February 1, 2010, or (2) new forms of Class III gambling or alternative casino-style gaming which were not in operation as of February 1, 2010.”
If this happen, the tribe is eligible to cease some of their obligations until such gaming is no longer operated. In the same way, if existing 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 state also.
So, about sports gambling…
It’s unlikely that Florida will observe sports gambling being provided by any entity 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 even a portion of those payments to authorize something that would generate as little extra state revenue as sports betting is incredibly unlikely.
While Florida sports gambling fans shouldn’t hold their breath for widespread legal sports betting, the Seminole Tribe can, under the streamlined, get the capability to provide it in their casinos. While the Seminole Tribe has expressed an interest in being able to offer sports betting at its Florida Hard Rock properties, they’ve been quiet on the issue inside the state of Florida.
Amendment 3 did not foreclose on any hope 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 other than the Seminole Tribe to offer it entirely, a decision that would surely leave facilities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties unhappy.
Read more: nokesvillehorsesociety.org