If Sports Betting Is Going To Happen In Florida, It’s Going To Have To Come Via Seminole Hard Rock
Florida voters simply made it harder to alter its legislation regarding gaming. What does that mean to the future of sports betting in the state?
Florida and Amendment 3
On Friday evening, since most of the nation was watching to see whether there was likely to become an ideological change in Congress, many in the gambling industry were watching a different 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 gaming in the nation.
The language of this measure was 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 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 gambling and clarifies that this amendment does not conflict with federal law regarding state/tribal compacts.»
Where did the gambling amendment come out of?
Only two counties in Florida allow for»card games, casino games, and slot machines» in non-tribal owned facilities.
In 2004, ahead of the present tribal compacts, under the watch of then-Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida voters in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties handed a ballot initiative that allowed for slot machines in racing and jai-alai centers, which had functioned in the two decades prior.
The change effectively suggests that in order for the state to expand casino gaming past 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 request added into a ballot.
«In Florida, the amount of signatures required for an initiative is equal to 8% of the votes cast in the previous presidential elections. Florida also includes a signature supply demand, which requires that signatures equivalent to 8% of the district-wide vote in 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 in order to acquire a casino expansion measure on a future ballot. This is a daunting endeavor, without thinking about the need for geographical distribution, which can be demanded.
There are, though, a few Florida-based groups that might be able to back a campaign of adequate size to gather these votes at one time in the future. Two which come into mind are Disney and the Seminole Tribe. Indeed, both Disney and the Seminoles were important 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 gambling suppliers such as West Flagler Associates and Hialeah Park, in addition to the Miami Dolphins, that (in)famously tweeted out an image that implied the passing of Amendment 3″would effectively block any chance for lawful sports betting in Florida.»
In the event the language of Amendment 3 seems complicated, that’s because it is. The language employed in the Amendment scored a grade-level rank of 24 (the equivalent of getting 24 decades of formal schooling or sufficient time to earn a Ph.D.) based on Ballotpedia, which ranks the readability of ballot measures. Amendment 3 was worded more complexly than others, together with the average ballot scoring between 19-20.
It does not require a Ph.D. to see that the Amendment does not mention sports. So, does this mean that Florida can start sports gambling shortly?
According to Ballotpedia, Amendment 3 defines casino gambling since card games, casino games and slot machines. There is absolutely 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 neglects the far larger problem, the fact that the State of Florida has a Class III gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe.
Sports betting is Class III gambling according to the 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, such as but not limited to —
(1) Card games like baccarat, chemin de fer, blackjack (21), and pai gow (if performed as house banking games);
(2) Casino games like roulette, craps, 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 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 involving the Seminole Tribe and the State of Florida may impose some restrictions.
What’s in the Florida gaming compact?
The Compact, which was signed in 2010 between the Seminole Tribe and the country (it was amended in 2015 to add authorization for additional games), said:
«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 provides substantial exclusivity of such activities along with a reasonable revenue sharing agreement 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 gambling, but there is a statement that would seem to cover sports betting as inside the coated games segment:
«Any fresh sport authorized 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 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 numerous games such as roulette and craps (that were subsequently allowed) there isn’t any mention of sports gambling, as explicitly excluded.
The streamlined identifies seven Seminole-owned casinos which could be enlarged or replaced but doesn’t authorize new construction beyond the present lands. In addition to abiding by state-sanctioned gaming principles, the tribe, in trade for»tight but Significant exclusivity,» agreed to pay:
$12.5 million per month during the initial 24 weeks of the agreement;
After that, 12 percentage of internet wins 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 larger 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 the compact.
What about online gaming?
For those hoping for online gaming, there’s a clause in the compact that says if the state law has been changed to offer online gambling and tribal gambling revenue falls over five percent in the previous twelve monthsthe tribe has to substantially decrease their payments into the country below the guaranteed minimums. Butthis 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 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 performance of Class III gambling or other casino-style gambling at any place under the jurisdiction of the State that was not in operation as of February 1, 2010, or (2) new forms of Class III gambling or alternative casino-style gaming that were not in operation at February 1, 2010.»
Should this happen, the tribe is entitled to stop some of their payments until such gaming is no longer managed. Similarly, if present non-tribal centers in Broward and Miami-Dade counties expand their Class III offerings, the Seminole Tribe can reduce some of their payments to the country also.
So, about sports betting…
It is not likely that Florida will see sports betting being offered by any entity apart from the Seminole Tribe.
The gambling 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 in 2016, the Seminole Tribe paid more than $300 million to the state. The chance that Florida would undermine even a portion of these payments to authorize something that would create as small extra state revenue as sports gambling is extremely unlikely.
While Florida sports gambling fans shouldn’t hold their breath for widespread lawful sports gambling, the Seminole Tribe could, under the streamlined, get the ability to provide it in their seven casinos. Even though the Seminole Tribe has previously expressed an interest in being able to offer sports gambling at its Florida Hard Rock possessions, they have been quiet on the matter inside the state of Florida.
Amendment 3 didn’t foreclose on any hope of sports betting in Florida. But under the existing gaming compact provisions, it would seem to be a costly undertaking for state lawmakers to permit someone aside from the Seminole Tribe to offer it entirely, a decision that would surely leave facilities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties unhappy.