Florida voters just made it harder to change its legislation regarding gaming. What exactly does that mean for the future of sports gambling from the nation?
Florida and Amendment 3
On Friday evening, since most of the country was observing to see whether there was likely to be an ideological change in Congress, many in the gaming industry were watching 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 change the power from legislators to voters to authorize new casino gambling in the state.
The language of this measure has been as follows:
“This amendment ensures that Florida voters will have the exclusive right to choose whether to authorize casino gambling by requiring that in order for casino gambling 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 gambling and explains that this amendment does not conflict with federal law concerning state/tribal compacts.”
Where did the gambling amendment come out of?
Just two counties in Florida allow for”card games, casino games, and slot machines” in non-tribal owned centers.
In 2004, ahead of 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 allowed for slot machines in racing and jai-alai centers, which had functioned in the two years prior.
The change effectively means that in order for the nation to expand casino gambling past the tribal casinos and existing racing and pari-mutuel facilities, voters in Florida would have 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 equal to 8% of the votes cast in the preceding presidential elections. Florida also includes a signature distribution demand, which requires that signatures equal to 8 percent of their district-wide vote in at least half (14) of the nation’s 27 congressional districts must be gathered.”
For reference, the 2016 Presidential election had 9,419,886 votes cast. Eight percent of this vote total is 753,591 signatures required to be able to acquire a casino growth measure on a future ballot. This is a daunting endeavor, without thinking about the demand for geographic distribution, which is required.
There are, however, a few Florida-based groups that might have the ability to back a campaign of adequate size to collect these votes at a time in the future. Two that come into 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 gaming suppliers such as West Flagler Associates and Hialeah Park, as well as the Miami Dolphins, that (in)famously tweeted out an image that indicated that 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 because it is. The language used in the Amendment scored a grade-level position of 24 (the equivalent of getting 24 decades of formal education or sufficient time to earn a Ph.D.) according to Ballotpedia, which positions the readability of ballot measures. Amendment 3 was worded more complexly than others, 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 this mean that Florida can start sports betting shortly?
What is’casino gambling’?
According to Ballotpedia, Amendment 3 defines casino gaming as card games, casino games and slot machines. There’s no mention of sports betting. So, while it may seem that Amendment 3 leaves open the question of whether Florida can provide sports gambling, it neglects the much larger issue, that the State of Florida has a Class III gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe.
Sports gambling is Class III gambling based on this 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 house banking game, including but not limited to —
(1) Card games such as baccarat, chemin de fer, blackjack (21), and pai gow (if played 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 does not limit sports betting, the existing compact between the Seminole Tribe and the State of Florida could impose a few limitations.
What’s 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), 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 provide certain Class III gaming 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 revenue participation.”
In the”Covered Games” part of the compact, there is no mention of sports gambling, but There’s a statement that might seem to cover sports gambling as inside the coated games section:
“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, provided 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 operate Covered Games on Indian Lands….” While Section IV of the compact excludes a number of games including roulette and craps (which were then allowed) there is no mention of sports betting, as explicitly excluded.
The compact describes seven Seminole-owned casinos which can be expanded 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 substantial exclusivity,” agreed to cover:
$12.5 million per month during the first 24 weeks of the agreement;
After that, 12 percent of net wins on all sums 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 levels larger than $4.5 billion per earnings sharing cycle.
These obligations are due on the 15th of each month for twenty five years by the initiation of the compact.
What about online gambling?
For those expecting for internet gaming, there is a clause in the streamlined that says : if the state law has been changed to provide online gaming and tribal gaming revenue drops more than five percent in the past twelve monthsthe tribe gets to substantially decrease their payments into the state under the bonded minimums. However this 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 looking for a new source of revenue. 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 performance of Class III gambling 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 were not in operation as of February 1, 2010.”
Should this occur, the tribe is entitled to cease some of their payments until such gambling is no longer operated. Similarly, if present non-tribal facilities in Broward and Miami-Dade counties expand their Class III offerings, the Seminole Tribe can reduce some of their payments to the country as well.
So, about sports gambling…
It is unlikely that Florida will see 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 rewarding for the nation and extremely beneficial for the tribe. For an overview of how lucrative this compact is for the State of Florida at 2016, the Seminole Tribe paid more than $300 million into the state. The likelihood that Florida would endanger even a portion of these payments to authorize something that would create as little additional state revenue as sports gambling is incredibly unlikely.
While Florida sports gambling fans shouldn’t hold their breath for widespread lawful sports gambling, the Seminole Tribe can, under the streamlined, get the ability to offer it at their seven casinos. Even though the Seminole Tribe has previously expressed an interest in being able to offer sports betting 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 betting in Florida. However, under the present gaming compact terms, it would appear to be a costly undertaking for state lawmakers to allow someone aside from the Seminole Tribe to provide it exclusively, a choice that would surely leave facilities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties unhappy.
Read more: chicagopost.net