Florida voters simply made it more challenging to alter its legislation concerning gaming. What does that mean to the future of sports gambling from the nation?
Florida and Amendment 3
On Friday evening, as the majority of the country was watching to see whether there was likely to become an ideological shift in Congress, many in the gaming 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 shift the power from legislators to voters to authorize brand new casino gambling in the nation.
The language of the measure was as follows:
“This amendment ensures that Florida voters shall have the exclusive right to choose whether to authorize casino gaming by requiring that in order for casino gambling 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 gaming 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 permit for”card games, casino games, casino games, and slot machines” in non-tribal owned facilities.
In 2004, ahead of 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 allowed for slot machines at racing and jai-alai facilities, which had functioned in the 2 years prior.
The amendment effectively suggests that in order for the nation to expand casino gambling beyond the tribal casinos and existing racing and pari-mutuel centers, voters in Florida would need to initiate the procedure by collecting enough signatures to get the request added to a ballot.
“In Florida, the amount of signatures necessary to get an initiative is equal to 8 percent of the votes cast in the previous presidential election. Florida also has a signature supply demand, which requires that signatures equal to 8% of their 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 needed to be able to acquire a casino growth step on a future ballot. This is a daunting endeavor, without thinking about the demand for geographical distribution, which can be required.
There are, though, a few Florida-based groups that may have the ability to back a campaign of adequate size to gather these votes at a time later on. 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 support the measure’s passage.
The opposition saw support from smaller gaming providers such as West Flagler Associates and Hialeah Park, in addition to the Miami Dolphins, that (in)famously tweeted out an image that implied that the passage of Amendment 3″would block any opportunity for legal sports betting in Florida.”
In the event the language of Amendment 3 appears complicated, that is because 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 sufficient time to earn a Ph.D.) based on Ballotpedia, which positions the readability of ballot measures. Amendment 3 was worded more complexly than many others, 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 this imply that Florida can start sports gambling soon?
In accordance with Ballotpedia, Amendment 3 defines casino gambling since card games, casino games and slot machines. There is no mention of sports betting. Therefore, while it may appear that Amendment 3 leaves open the question of whether Florida can provide sports gambling, it fails the much bigger issue, the fact 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 Aren’t 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 such as 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 betting and parimutuel wagering including but not limited to wagering on horse racing, dog racing or jai alai; or
While Amendment 3 doesn’t limit sports betting, the existing compact involving the Seminole Tribe and the State of Florida may impose a few limitations.
What’s from the Florida gaming compact?
The Compact, which was signed in 2010 between the Seminole Tribe and the state (it had been amended in 2015 to add authorization for extra 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 acknowledges that the Tribe’s right to provide certain Class III gambling and provides substantial exclusivity of these actions along 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” section of this compact, there is no mention of sports betting, but there is a statement that might seem to cover sports gambling as inside the covered games segment:
“Any new game approved by Florida law for any individual for any purpose, except for banked card games authorized for any other federally recognized tribe pursuant to [the] Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, assuming the tribe has land 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 Section IV of the compact excludes numerous games including blackjack and roulette (that were then allowed) there isn’t any mention of sports betting, as blatantly excluded.
The streamlined describes seven Seminole-owned casinos that could be expanded or replaced but does not authorize new construction beyond the existing lands. In addition to abiding by state-sanctioned gaming principles, the tribe, in exchange for”tight but Significant exclusivity,” agreed to pay:
$12.5 million per month during the initial 24 months of the agreement;
After that, 12 percent of internet wins 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 amounts larger than $4.5 billion each earnings sharing cycle.
These payments are due on the 15th of every month for twenty years from the initiation of the compact.
What about online gambling?
For those hoping for online gambling, there’s a clause in the compact that statesif the state law is altered to offer online gaming and tribal gambling revenue drops more than five percent from the past twelve monthsthe tribe gets to substantially reduce their payments into the country under the bonded 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 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 operation of Class III gaming or other casino-style gambling at any location under the jurisdiction of the State that was not in operation at February 1, 2010, or (2) new forms of Class III gaming or other casino-style gaming which were not in operation at February 1, 2010.”
If this occur, the tribe is entitled to stop some of their obligations until such gaming is no longer managed. Similarly, if present non-tribal facilities in Broward and Miami-Dade counties expand their Course III offerings, the Seminole Tribe can decrease some of their obligations to the country also.
So, about sports betting…
It is not likely that Florida will see sports gambling being provided by any thing apart from the Seminole Tribe.
The gambling compact negotiated between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida is lucrative for the nation and extremely helpful for the tribe. For an overview of how lucrative this compact is to get the State of Florida at 2016, the Seminole Tribe paid more than $300 million to the nation. The chance that Florida would undermine a portion of those payments to authorize something that would create as small extra state revenue as sports betting is incredibly unlikely.
While Florida sports gambling fans shouldn’t hold their breath for widespread legal sports betting, the Seminole Tribe could, under the compact, receive the ability to provide it in their casinos. While the Seminole Tribe has previously expressed an interest in being able to provide sports betting at its Florida Hard Rock properties, they’ve been quiet on the issue inside the state of Florida.
Amendment 3 didn’t foreclose on any expectation of sports betting in Florida. However, under the present gaming compact terms, it would seem to be a costly endeavor for state lawmakers to permit someone other than the Seminole Tribe to offer it exclusively, a choice that would surely leave facilities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties unhappy.
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