Florida voters just made it harder to change its legislation regarding gambling. What does that mean for the future of sports betting from the state?
Florida and Amendment 3
On Friday evening, as most of the country was watching to see whether there was going to become an ideological change 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 could change the power from legislators to voters to authorize brand new casino gambling in the state.
The language of this measure was 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 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 gambling and clarifies that this amendment doesn’t conflict with federal law regarding state/tribal compacts.“
Where did the gambling amendment come from?
Just two counties in Florida allow for“card games, casino games, casino games, and slot machines“ in non-tribal owned centers.
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 which allowed for slot machines in racing and jai-alai centers, which had functioned in the 2 decades prior.
The amendment effectively means that in order for the nation to expand casino gaming beyond the tribal casinos and present racing and pari-mutuel facilities, voters in Florida would need to initiate the process by collecting enough signatures to get the request added into a ballot.
„In Florida, the number of signatures required to get an initiative is equivalent to 8 percent of those votes cast in the previous presidential election. Florida also has a touch supply requirement, which requires that signatures equivalent to 8% of the district-wide vote in at least half (14) of the nation’s 27 congressional districts must 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 acquire a casino expansion step on a future ballot. This is a daunting endeavor, without considering the demand for geographic distribution, which can be demanded.
There are, though, a couple of 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 which come to mind are Disney and the Seminole Tribe. Indeed, both Disney and the Seminoles were important backers for departure Amendment 3, allegedly putting in tens of millions of dollars to support the measure’s passage.
The resistance saw assistance from smaller gaming providers such as West Flagler Associates and Hialeah Park, as well as the Miami Dolphins, that (in)famously tweeted out an image that implied the passing of Amendment 3″would block any chance for legal sports betting in Florida.“
If the language of Amendment 3 seems complicated, that’s as it is. The language employed in the Amendment scored a grade-level rank of 24 (the equivalent of having 24 decades of formal education or sufficient time to earn a Ph.D.) based on Ballotpedia, which positions the readability of all ballot measures. Amendment 3 has been worded more complexly than others, together with the average ballot scoring between 19-20.
It does not require a Ph.D. to realize that the Amendment doesn’t mention sports. So, does this mean that Florida can launch 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 absolutely no mention of sports betting. Therefore, while it may appear that Amendment 3 leaves open the question of whether Florida can provide sports betting, it neglects the far bigger problem, that the State of Florida has a Class III gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe.
Sports gambling is Class III gambling 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 such as baccarat, chemin de fer, blackjack (21), and pai gow (if performed as house banking matches );
(2) Casino games like 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 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 may impose some limitations.
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 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 offer certain Class III gaming and supplies 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 might seem to cover sports betting as inside the coated games segment:
„Any fresh sport approved by Florida law for any person for any use, except for banked card games authorized for any other federally recognized tribe pursuant to [the] Indian Gambling Regulatory Act, provided 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 such as blackjack and roulette (which were subsequently allowed) there is no mention of sports betting, as explicitly excluded.
The streamlined describes seven Seminole-owned casinos that can be enlarged or replaced but doesn’t authorize new construction beyond the existing lands. In addition to abiding by state-sanctioned gaming rules, the tribe, in trade for“tight but Significant exclusivity,“ agreed to pay:
$12.5 million each month during the first 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;
As much as 25 percent on all levels larger than $4.5 billion per revenue sharing cycle.
These obligations are due on the 15th of every month for twenty five years by the initiation of this compact.
What about online gaming?
For those hoping for internet gaming, there is a clause in the compact that says if the state law is changed to provide online gambling and tribal gaming revenue falls over five percent in the past twelve months, the tribe gets to considerably decrease their payments into the state under the bonded minimums. However , this will not 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 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 allow (1) the operation of Class III gaming or other casino-style gambling at any place under the jurisdiction of this State that was not 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 occur, the tribe is entitled to stop some of their payments until such gambling is no longer managed. In the same way, if existing non-tribal centers in Broward and Miami-Dade counties expand their Class III offerings, the Seminole Tribe can decrease some of their payments to the state also.
So, about sports betting…
It’s unlikely that Florida will see sports betting 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 state and extremely helpful for the tribe. For an summary of how lucrative this compact is for the State of Florida at 2016, the Seminole Tribe paid over $300 million into the state. The likelihood that Florida would undermine even a portion of these payments to authorize something that would generate as small extra state revenue as sports gambling is extremely unlikely.
While Florida sports gambling fans shouldn’t hold their breath for widespread legal sports betting, the Seminole Tribe could, under the compact, get the ability to offer it in their seven casinos. Even though the Seminole Tribe has expressed an interest in being able to provide sports betting at its Florida Hard Rock possessions, they have been silent on the matter within the state of Florida.
Amendment 3 did not foreclose on any hope of sports gambling in Florida. But under the existing gaming compact provisions, it would seem to be a costly undertaking for state lawmakers to permit someone aside from the Seminole Tribe to provide it exclusively, a decision that would surely render facilities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties unhappy.
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