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 more challenging to alter its laws concerning gaming. What does that mean for the future of sports betting from the nation?
Florida and Amendment 3
On election night, since most of the nation was observing to see whether there was likely to become an ideological change in Congress, many in the gambling 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 could shift the power from legislators to voters to authorize brand new casino gaming in the nation.
The language of this step was as follows:
“This amendment ensures that Florida voters will have the exclusive right to choose whether to authorize casino gaming by requiring that in order for casino gaming to be authorized 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 gaming amendment come out of?
Just two counties in Florida allow for”card games, casino games, casino games, and slot machines” in 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 that enabled for slot machines in racing and jai-alai facilities, which had functioned in the 2 years 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 facilities, 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 for an initiative is equivalent to 8 percent of those votes cast in the preceding presidential elections. Florida also includes a signature distribution requirement, which requires that signatures equivalent to 8% 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 to be able to acquire a casino expansion step on a future ballot. This is a daunting task, without thinking about the need for geographic distribution, which is demanded.
There are, however, a couple of Florida-based groups that may have the ability to back a campaign of sufficient size to collect these votes at one time in the future. Two that come to mind are Disney and the Seminole Tribe. Indeed, the two Disney and the Seminoles were important backers for departure Amendment 3, supposedly putting in tens of millions of dollars to encourage 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 passage of Amendment 3″would effectively block any chance for lawful sports gambling in Florida.”
If the language of Amendment 3 seems complicated, that’s because it is. The language employed in the Amendment scored a grade-level position of 24 (the equivalent of having 24 years of formal schooling or enough time to make a Ph.D.) based on Ballotpedia, which ranks the readability of all ballot measures. Amendment 3 has been 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 doesn’t mention sports. So, does that imply that Florida can start sports gambling shortly?
According to Ballotpedia, Amendment 3 defines casino gaming since card games, casino games and slot machines. There’s 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 neglects the far larger problem, that the State of Florida includes a Class III gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe.
Sports gambling 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 home banking game, including but not Limited to —
(1) Card games like baccarat, chemin de fer, blackjack (21), and pai gow (if played as house banking games);
(2) Casino games such as 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 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 involving the Seminole Tribe and the State of Florida could impose a few restrictions.
What’s in the Florida gaming compact?
The Compact, which was signed in 2010 involving the Seminole Tribe and the state (it had been 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 recognizes the Tribe’s right to provide certain Class III gambling and provides substantial exclusivity of these actions along with a sensible revenue sharing arrangement between the Tribe and the State that will entitle the State to significant revenue participation.”
In the”Covered Games” section of the compact, there Is Not Any mention of sports gambling, but there is a statement that might seem to cover sports betting as within the coated games section:
“Any fresh sport authorized by Florida law for any individual for any use, except for banked card games approved for any other federally recognized tribe pursuant to [the] Indian Gambling Regulatory Act, assuming that 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 run Covered Games on Indian Lands….” While Section IV of this compact excludes a number of games such as roulette and craps (which were then allowed) there isn’t any mention of sports betting, as blatantly excluded.
The streamlined identifies seven Seminole-owned casinos which could be enlarged or replaced but doesn’t 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 cover:
$12.5 million each month during the first 24 weeks of the agreement;
After that, 12 percent of internet wins all sums 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;
Up to 25 percent on all amounts larger than $4.5 billion each revenue sharing cycle.
These obligations are due on the 15th of every month for twenty five years by the initiation of the compact.
What about online gambling?
For those hoping for internet gaming, there’s a clause in the streamlined that states: if the state law is changed to offer online gambling and tribal gambling revenue drops more than five percent from the past twelve months, the tribe has to considerably reduce their payments into the country under the bonded minimums. However this won’t apply if the tribe provides online gambling, subject to express consent.
In the event that the Seminole Tribe loses exclusivity, the state of Florida will be looking for a new source of earnings. 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 permit (1) the performance of Class III gaming or other casino-style gaming at any place under the jurisdiction of the State that wasn’t in operation at February 1, 2010, or (2) new forms of Class III gambling or other casino-style gaming that weren’t in operation at February 1, 2010.”
Should this occur, the tribe is eligible 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 extend their Class III offerings, the Seminole Tribe can decrease some of their payments to the state also.
So, about sports gambling…
It is unlikely that Florida will see sports betting 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 lucrative for the nation 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 over $300 million to the nation. The likelihood that Florida would undermine even a portion of those payments to authorize something that would generate as little additional state revenue as sports betting is extremely unlikely.
While Florida sports gambling fans shouldn’t hold their breath for widespread legal sports betting, the Seminole Tribe can, under the compact, receive the ability to provide it at their casinos. Even though the Seminole Tribe has previously expressed an interest in being able to provide sports gambling at its Florida Hard Rock possessions, they have been silent on the issue inside the state of Florida.
Amendment 3 did not foreclose on any expectation of sports gambling in Florida. However, under the existing gaming compact terms, it would seem to be a costly undertaking for state lawmakers to permit someone other than the Seminole Tribe to provide it entirely, a choice that would surely render facilities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties unhappy.