Florida voters simply made it harder to change its laws regarding gaming. What exactly does that mean to the future of sports gambling in the nation?
Florida and Amendment 3
On election night, since the majority of the nation was observing to see if there was likely to be an ideological shift in Congress, many in the gambling industry were watching a different race in Florida.
This race did not entail the election of an individual; the race was for Florida Amendment 3, a ballot measure that would shift the power from legislators to voters to authorize new casino gambling in the state.
The language of the step was as follows:
“This change ensures that Florida voters will 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 has to 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 gaming amendment come out of?
Only two counties in Florida allow for”card games, casino games, and slot machines” at non-tribal owned centers.
In 2004, before the current tribal compacts, under the watch of then-Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida voters in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties passed a ballot initiative that enabled for slot machines at racing and jai-alai centers, which had operated in the two decades prior.
The amendment effectively means that in order for the state to expand casino gambling beyond the tribal casinos and existing 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 equal to 8% of the votes cast in the preceding presidential election. Florida also includes a touch supply requirement, which requires that signatures equal to 8 percent of the district-wide vote at at least half (14) of the state’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 required to be able to acquire a casino expansion step on a future ballot. This is an intimidating endeavor, without thinking about the demand for geographic distribution, which is demanded.
There are, however, a couple of Florida-based groups that may be able to back a campaign of sufficient size to collect these votes at a time in the future. Two that come to mind are Disney and the Seminole Tribe. Indeed, the two Disney and the Seminoles were major backers for departure Amendment 3, supposedly putting in tens of millions of dollars to encourage the measure’s passage.
The resistance saw assistance from smaller gaming providers including West Flagler Associates and Hialeah Park, in addition to the Miami Dolphins, that (in)famously tweeted an image that indicated that the passing of Amendment 3″would block any chance for lawful sports gambling from Florida.”
If the language of Amendment 3 appears complicated, that is as it’s. The language used in the Amendment scored a grade-level rank of 24 (the equivalent of having 24 decades of formal education or enough time to earn a Ph.D.) according to Ballotpedia, which positions the readability of ballot measures. Amendment 3 has been worded more complexly than 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 launch sports gambling shortly?
What is’casino gambling’?
According to 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 can seem that Amendment 3 leaves open the question of whether Florida can offer sports gambling, it fails the far bigger problem, that the State of Florida includes 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, such as but not limited to —
(1) Card games like baccarat, chemin de fer, blackjack (21), and pai gow (if performed 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 does not limit sports gambling, the existing compact between the Seminole Tribe and the State of Florida could impose some limitations.
What is in the Florida gaming streamlined?
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), said:
“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 acknowledges that the Tribe’s right to provide certain Class III gaming and provides substantial exclusivity of these activities in conjunction with a sensible revenue sharing agreement 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 gambling, but there is a statement that might seem to cover sports betting as inside the coated games segment:
“Any new sport authorized by Florida law for any person for any purpose, except for banked card games approved for any other federally recognized tribe pursuant to [the] Indian Gambling 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 Part IV of the compact excludes a number of games such as roulette and craps (that were subsequently allowed) there isn’t any mention of sports betting, as explicitly excluded.
The streamlined describes seven Seminole-owned casinos which could be enlarged or replaced but does not authorize new construction beyond the existing lands. In addition to abiding by state-sanctioned gaming principles, the tribe, in trade for”tight but Significant exclusivity,” agreed to cover:
$12.5 million per month during the initial 24 months of the agreement;
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 levels greater than $4.5 billion per revenue sharing cycle.
These obligations are due on the 15th of each month for twenty five years from the initiation of this compact.
What about online gambling?
For those hoping for internet gambling, there is a clause in the compact that says : if the state law is changed to provide online gaming and tribal gambling revenue falls over five percent in the previous twelve months, the tribe has to substantially decrease their payments into the country below the guaranteed minimums. Butthis will not apply if the tribe offers online gambling, subject to state consent.
In case the Seminole Tribe loses exclusivity, the state of Florida will be in search of a new 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 permit (1) the operation of Class III gaming or other casino-style gambling at any place 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 alternative casino-style gaming which weren’t in operation at February 1, 2010.”
Should this happen, the tribe is eligible to cease some of their obligations until such gambling is no longer managed. Similarly, if existing non-tribal facilities in Broward and Miami-Dade counties extend their Class III offerings, the Seminole Tribe can decrease some of their payments to the state as well.
So, about sports gambling…
It’s unlikely that Florida will observe sports gambling being provided by any thing other than the Seminole Tribe.
The gambling compact negotiated between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida is lucrative for the state and extremely beneficial for the tribe. For an overview of how rewarding this compact is for the State of Florida at 2016, the Seminole Tribe paid more than $300 million into the nation. The chance that Florida would endanger even a portion of those payments to authorize something which would generate as small extra state revenue as sports gambling is incredibly unlikely.
While Florida sports gambling fans should not hold their breath for widespread lawful sports gambling, the Seminole Tribe can, under the compact, get the capability to offer it in their seven casinos. While the Seminole Tribe has previously expressed an interest in being able to offer sports gambling at its Florida Hard Rock properties, they have been quiet on the matter inside the state of Florida.
Amendment 3 didn’t foreclose on any hope of sports gambling in Florida. But under the existing gaming compact provisions, it would seem to be a costly endeavor for state lawmakers to allow someone other than the Seminole Tribe to provide it entirely, a choice that would surely leave facilities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties unhappy.
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