Florida voters just made it more challenging to alter its laws concerning gaming. What does that mean for the future of sports gambling from the nation?
Florida and Amendment 3
On election night, since most of the country was watching to see if there was likely to be an ideological change in Congress, many in the gaming industry were seeing another race in Florida.
This race did not entail 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 measure was 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 explains that this amendment does not conflict with federal law concerning state/tribal compacts.”
Where did the gambling amendment come from?
Only two counties in Florida allow for”card games, casino games, and slot machines” in non-tribal owned facilities.
In 2004, before the current 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 change 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 petition added to a ballot.
“In Florida, the amount of signatures required to get an initiative is equivalent to 8% of those votes cast in the preceding presidential election. Florida also includes a signature distribution requirement, which requires that signatures equivalent to 8% of their district-wide vote in 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 needed in order to get a casino growth measure on a future ballot. This is a daunting endeavor, without thinking about the demand for geographic distribution, which can be demanded.
There are, however, a couple of Florida-based groups that might be able to back a campaign of adequate size to collect these votes at a time in the future. Two which come into mind are Disney and the Seminole Tribe. Really, both Disney and the Seminoles were major backers for departure Amendment 3, allegedly putting in tens of millions of dollars to encourage the measure’s passage.
The resistance saw assistance from smaller gaming suppliers such as West Flagler Associates and Hialeah Park, in addition to the Miami Dolphins, that (in)famously tweeted an image that indicated that the passage of Amendment 3″would effectively block any opportunity for legal sports betting in Florida.”
If the language of Amendment 3 appears complicated, that is as it is. The language used in the Amendment scored a grade-level position of 24 (the equivalent of having 24 decades of formal schooling or sufficient time to make a Ph.D.) according to Ballotpedia, which ranks the readability of all ballot measures. Amendment 3 has been worded more complexly than many others, together with the average ballot scoring between 19-20.
It doesn’t take a Ph.D. to realize that the Amendment doesn’t mention sports. So, does this mean that Florida can start sports gambling shortly?
What is’casino gambling’?
In accordance with Ballotpedia, Amendment 3 defines casino gaming since card games, casino games and slot machines. There is absolutely no mention of sports gambling. Therefore, while it may appear that Amendment 3 leaves open the question of whether Florida can offer sports betting, it neglects the much bigger issue, that the State of Florida includes a Class III gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe.
Sports betting is Class III gaming based on 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, such as 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 like craps, blackjack, 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 doesn’t limit sports gambling, the present compact involving the Seminole Tribe and the State of Florida may impose a few limitations.
What’s in the Florida gaming compact?
The Compact, which was signed in 2010 involving 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 offer certain Class III gambling and supplies substantial exclusivity of these actions in conjunction with a sensible revenue sharing agreement between the Tribe and the State that will entitle the State to important earnings participation.”
In the”Covered Games” part of the compact, there Is Not Any mention of sports betting, but There’s a statement that would seem to cover sports betting as inside the coated games segment:
“Any fresh game authorized 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 Gaming Regulatory Act, provided the tribe has property 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 the compact excludes a number of games such as roulette and craps (which were then allowed) there isn’t any mention of sports gambling, as blatantly excluded.
The streamlined describes seven Seminole-owned casinos that could be expanded or replaced but does not authorize new construction outside the present 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 initial 24 months of the arrangement;
After that, 12 percent of internet wins all amounts up to $2 billion;
15 percent on internet wins between $2 and $3 billion;
17.5 percent on internet wins between $3 billion and $3.5 billion;
Up to 25 percent on all amounts greater than $4.5 billion per earnings sharing cycle.
These payments are due on the 15th of each month for twenty five years by the initiation of the compact.
What about online gaming?
For those hoping for internet gaming, there is a clause in the streamlined that says : if the state law has been altered to offer online gaming and tribal gaming revenue falls over five percent in the previous twelve monthsthe tribe has to substantially decrease their payments into the country below the guaranteed minimums. However , this won’t apply if the tribe provides online gambling, subject to express consent.
In case the Seminole Tribe loses exclusivity, the state of Florida will be in search of a fresh 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 location under the authority of the State that was not in operation as of February 1, 2010, or (2) new forms of Class III gaming or other casino-style gaming which weren’t in operation at February 1, 2010.”
If this occur, the tribe is entitled to cease some of their obligations until such gambling is no longer operated. Similarly, if present non-tribal centers in Broward and Miami-Dade counties extend their Course III offerings, the Seminole Tribe can decrease some of their payments to the state as well.
So, about sports betting…
It’s unlikely that Florida will observe sports betting being offered by any thing other than the Seminole Tribe.
The gaming compact negotiated between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida is lucrative for the nation and extremely beneficial for the tribe. For an summary of how rewarding this compact is to get the State of Florida in 2016, the Seminole Tribe paid over $300 million to the state. The chance that Florida would undermine even a portion of these payments to authorize something which would create as little extra state revenue as sports gambling is extremely unlikely.
While Florida sports gambling fans should not hold their breath for widespread lawful sports betting, the Seminole Tribe could, under the compact, get the capability to offer it at their casinos. While the Seminole Tribe has previously expressed an interest in being able to provide sports betting at its Florida Hard Rock possessions, they’ve recently been silent on the issue within the state of Florida.
Amendment 3 did not foreclose on any expectation of sports gambling in Florida. However, under the present 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.
Read more: montanayouthrugby.org