Florida voters just made it more challenging to alter its laws concerning gaming. What exactly does that mean to the future of sports gambling in the state?
Florida and Amendment 3
On election night, as the majority of the nation was observing to see whether there was going to become an ideological shift in Congress, many in the gambling industry were watching 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 could change 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 will have the exclusive right to choose whether to authorize casino gambling by requiring that in order for casino gaming to be authorized 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 does not conflict with federal legislation regarding state/tribal compacts.”
Where did the gaming amendment come out of?
Only two counties in Florida allow for”card games, casino games, casino games, and slot machines” at non-tribal owned centers.
In 2004, ahead of the current 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 at racing and jai-alai centers, which had operated in the two years prior.
The amendment effectively suggests that in order for the state to expand casino gaming beyond the tribal casinos and present racing and pari-mutuel centers, voters in Florida would have to initiate the procedure by collecting enough signatures to get the petition added into a ballot.
“In Florida, the number of signatures necessary to get an initiative is equal to 8% of those votes cast in the previous presidential elections. Florida also includes a touch supply demand, which requires that signatures equal to 8 percent of their 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 the vote total is 753,591 signatures needed in order to acquire a casino expansion measure on a future ballot. This is an intimidating task, without thinking about the need for geographical distribution, which is demanded.
There are, however, a couple of Florida-based groups that might be able to back a campaign of adequate size to gather these votes at a time later on. Two that come into mind are Disney and the Seminole Tribe. Indeed, both 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 opposition saw assistance from smaller gaming suppliers including West Flagler Associates and Hialeah Park, in addition to the Miami Dolphins, who (in)famously tweeted an image that implied the passing of Amendment 3″would block any opportunity for lawful sports betting in Florida.”
If the language of Amendment 3 appears complicated, that’s because 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 earn 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 typical ballot scoring between 19-20.
It doesn’t require a Ph.D. to realize that the Amendment doesn’t mention sports. So, does that imply that Florida can start sports betting soon?
What is’casino gambling’?
According to Ballotpedia, Amendment 3 defines casino gaming as card games, casino games and slot machines. There is no mention of sports betting. Therefore, while it can seem that Amendment 3 leaves open the question of whether Florida can offer sports betting, it neglects the far bigger issue, the fact that the State of Florida includes a Class III gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe.
Sports gambling is Class III gaming 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, such as but not limited to —
(1) Card games like baccarat, chemin de fer, blackjack (21), and pai gow (if played as house banking matches );
(2) Casino games like roulette, craps, 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 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 could impose a few 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), stated:
“It’s 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 such actions in conjunction with a sensible revenue sharing arrangement 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 no mention of sports betting, but there is a statement that might seem to cover sports gambling as within the covered games section:
“Any new game approved by Florida law for any person for any purpose, except for banked card games authorized 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 run Covered Games on Indian Lands….” While Section IV of this compact excludes numerous games such as blackjack and roulette (that were then allowed) there isn’t any mention of sports gambling, as blatantly excluded.
The compact identifies seven Seminole-owned casinos which 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 exchange for”partial but Significant exclusivity,” agreed to cover:
$12.5 million per month during the initial 24 months of the arrangement;
After that, 12 percentage of net wins on all amounts up to $2 billion;
15 percent on net 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 greater than $4.5 billion per revenue sharing cycle.
These payments are due on the 15th of each month for twenty years from the initiation of this compact.
What about online gaming?
For those expecting for online gaming, there is a clause in the streamlined that says : if the state law has been 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 to the state below the guaranteed minimums. But, this won’t apply if the tribe offers online gambling, subject to state authorization.
In case 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 legislation is amended by action of the Florida Legislature or an amendment to the Florida Constitution to allow (1) the operation of Class III gambling or other casino-style gaming at any location under the authority 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 that weren’t in operation as of February 1, 2010.”
If this occur, 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 also.
So, about sports gambling…
It’s unlikely that Florida will see sports gambling being provided 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 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 chance that Florida would endanger even a portion of those payments to authorize something which would create as small additional state revenue as sports betting is extremely unlikely.
While Florida sports betting fans shouldn’t hold their breath for widespread legal sports gambling, the Seminole Tribe can, under the compact, get the ability to provide it in their casinos. While the Seminole Tribe has previously expressed an interest in being able to offer sports gambling at its Florida Hard Rock properties, they’ve been silent on the issue within the state of Florida.
Amendment 3 didn’t foreclose on any expectation of sports gambling in Florida. But under the present gaming compact terms, it would seem to be a costly undertaking for state lawmakers to permit someone aside from the Seminole Tribe to offer it exclusively, a decision that would surely render facilities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties unhappy.
Read more: manchesterinnews.com