Florida Legislators Assess Amendment 3 Impact on Sports Betting
Florida voters passed Amendment 3, the Voter Control of Gambling amendment, by 71 percent. It “ensures Florida voters shall have the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling.” Incoming Senate President Bill Galvano said the amendment doesn’t specifically call out sports betting but it defines “casino gambling” as “any of the types of games typically found in casinos.” The amendment also states casino gambling is “Class III gaming” under federal Indian gambling law, which does include sports betting.
Galvano said, “It may require, if we decide to regulate sports betting and collect revenues from it, that we go back out to a referendum. I’m not convinced it would require another constitutional amendment.”
However, John Sowinski, Nope, says John Sowinski, president of Voters in Charge, the political committee behind the amendment, disagreed. He said, “Florida’s Constitution and the will of the people are now crystal clear on this matter. Only Florida voters, by constitutional initiative, have the authority to authorize any form of casino gambling, including sports betting. That’s not just our opinion. That is the stated opinion of sports gambling advocates who opposed Amendment 3 with their millions, and with their communications on the subject. Any legislation that ignores Amendment 3 and its overwhelming voter support is patently unconstitutional and an affront to the will of the people.”
Leaders of the Seminole Tribe of Florida also have made it clear that any approval of sports betting and daily fantasy sports would violate their exclusive rights to offer blackjack through 2030 under the so-called Seminole compact. The tribe’s continued annual payments of millions of dollars to the state depend on the promise of “aggressive enforcement” by state regulators.
Galvano noted, “I think it would behoove us to bring stability with the Seminole Tribe as part of a bigger package.” Seminole spokesman Gary Bitner said, “It’s good to hear Senator Galvano talk about stability in connection with the Seminole tribe. Stability has always been the tribe’s primary goal.”