Florida Senate President Claims they may Attempt to Reverse or Side Skirt Amendment 3 which Requires Gambling Issues to be Approved by Voters

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to properly regulate Florida gambling issues, including the most recently passed Amendment 3. That amendment requires the Florida legislature to get final approval for gambling expansion from voters and most voters in Florida aren’t in favor of gambling expansion. Recently, when discussing the failed attempts are getting a new gambling compact signed with the Seminole Tribe, comments have been made that the reversal of Amendment 3 might be on the horizon. The failed deal was over gambling exclusivity in exchange for payment to the state and the inability to reach a deal meant the Seminole Tribe held their payments back from the state. An online source explains: 

The Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis this spring were unable to seal a deal between the Seminoles and the state aimed at resolving a protracted legal battle over controversial “designated player” card games operated by many Florida pari-mutuels. A federal judge found the designated player games violated a compact between the tribe and the state in which the Seminoles agreed to pay about $350 million a year in exchange for the “exclusive” rights to operate banked card games, such as blackjack, at most of its Florida casinos. 

[P]resented with the outlines of the agreement near the end of the spring session, DeSantis, who took office in January, refused to sign off on the deal, saying he needed more time to explore the issues.

Not long after the session ended in May, the Seminoles told the governor in writing they would stop making the annual payments to the state “until the illegal banked card game issue is resolved,” referring to the designated player games.

Given they had to budget a year without the Seminole money, they are now approaching the situation as if a deal simply isn’t needed. Florida Senate President Bill Galvano is suggesting looking at many options, The online source continue:

“The underlying point is, financially, we’ve moved on from the tribe. We didn’t rely on the revenue share last budget and there’s no reason to believe we have to recreate that revenue share going forward,” Galvano said. “If we’re not getting revenue, there’s no reason to provide exclusivity (to operate banked card games). We realize it’s a new day, so we’ll take it from there.”

Instead of focusing on how much the tribe will pay for exclusivity, Galvano and Oliva are open to examining how much the state could reap if the Legislature delivers on the pari-mutuels’ wish list.

Items on the table include “codifying” the designated player games, increasing bet limits and authorizing sports betting and fantasy sports, Galvano said. He’s also willing to consider other perks for pari-mutuel operators.

One of the biggest obstacles to this line of thinking, however, is Amendment 3. It’s a voter initiative that passed with overwhelming support and it requires various gambling issues to get a final vote from the people. Galvano doesn’t seem concerned and even suggested trying to reverse the amendment:

The constitutional amendment “requires a vote by citizens initiative” for “casino gambling” to be authorized in Florida. “Casino gambling” is defined as “any of the type of games typically found in casinos” and that are defined as “Class III gaming” under federal law. Class III games include slot machines, blackjack, craps and roulette — and sports betting.

Galvano said lawmakers have the ability to put their own gambling-related constitutional proposals on the ballot, such as “repealing that amendment and restoring the (Legislature’s) ability to expand gaming.”

Galvano also contends that, while the Legislature could authorize sports betting through passing a statute, lawmakers “could push that constitutionally” as an extra precaution.

The Senate president maintains the legalization of sports betting would not trigger the citizens’ initiative requirement, a position disputed by John Sowinski, the campaign manager of the political committee behind last year’s constitutional amendment. “The Legislature neither has the authority to enact or propose an expansion of casino gambling in the state. Period,” Sowinski told the News Service.

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