Category Archives: Ballot Measure

Guest Editorial: Gaming companies placed a $62 million bet against Florida voters. Don’t let them win

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the various attempts to expand gambling in Florida.  After a successful Amendment to the Florida Constitution, new gambling in the state must be approved by the voters.  So far, 4 different initiative potions dealing with gambling have been successfully funded to find their way on the ballot.  The Miami Herald Editorial Board has come out strongly in opposition and is warning Florida voters to avoid being deceived by all these gambling expansion measures.  Read below and for the full article, click HERE:

Consider yourself warned, Florida. The door has been flung wide open for more gambling and everyone is scrambling to get a piece of the action. How else to explain this astonishing piece of news: Gambling interests pumped a whopping $62 million in political contributions last month into groups and efforts that could influence the future of sports betting and casino gambling via ballot initiatives in 2022, according to a Miami Herald story.

With that kind of money on the table, the potential market in Florida must be huge. No doubt much of this interest springs from the Legislature’s easy approval this year of a $500 million gambling deal negotiated between the Gov. Ron Desantis and the Seminole Tribe.

Out-of-state, sports-gaming companiesFanDuel and DraftKings are each in for a cool $10 million, money they put into a political committee pushing to expand online sports betting across the state. They were iced out of the Seminole deal.

The Las Vegas Sands, a powerful new player, dropped $17 million into a political committee linked to two ballot issues for more casinos. Sources told the Herald that the company is interested in purchasing existing parimutuel licenses to open casinos in Jacksonville and other northern Florida spots.

Miami’s Magic City Casino anted up $15 million for its own political committee, official purpose unspecified. And the Seminole Tribe, winner of the last round of Gambling Gone Wild in this state, put $10 million into yet another political committee, mostly likely to defend its crown…

The timing of this slew of cash isn’t a coincidence. A new law was supposed to go into effect July 1 to limit contributions for signature-gathering — a requirement to get a proposed amendment on the ballot — to a paltry $3,000 per organization. But a lawsuit was filed, and a federal judge temporarily blocked the law just as it was about to go into effect…

It’s not completely clear yet which organization wants what next year. But the Miami Herald sketched it out this way:

FanDuel and DraftKings are looking for their own online sports betting deal to be approved by Florida voters. The Seminole Tribe wants to be ready to defend its 30-year gaming deal, which is still awaiting approval from the federal government. The Sands organization is eyeing casinos in northern Florida. And Magic City’s stake is designed to make sure parimutuels have a place at the table.

If that sounds like the state is being carved up like a roast at Sunday dinner, well, we agree…

But more gambling is not yet a done deal in this state. Getting a constitutional amendment onto the ballot in Florida isn’t easy. And any amendment must pass with at least 60 percent of the vote. No matter how much money the gambling companies throw at Florida, voters still have the final say.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


New Florida Seminole Gambling Compact Reached, but the Inclusion of Sports Betting is Sure to Elicit Legal Challenges

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the years long attempts and finalizing a new gambling agreement between Florida and the Seminole Nation.  It would appear the long awaited agreement has finally been reached, but it will still need to be ratified in a special legislative session before it becomes law.  The Orlando Fox Affiliate reports:

Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe finalized a 30-year gambling agreement on Friday, inking a deal that would deliver at least $2.5 billion to Florida over the next five years in exchange for giving the tribe control over statewide sports betting. Tribal leaders, including Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr., joined DeSantis in his Tallahassee office for a ceremonial signing of the deal, known as a “compact.”

“We truly believe that this is the best deal for everybody. It’s not in favor of the tribe or the state. It’s in favor of both parties, because this is a long-lasting team,” Osceola said. DeSantis noted Friday that the agreement, which requires approval by the Legislature, would allow the state to capitalize on online sport betting.

Although many are pleased to finally see a new compact agreement reached, those who oppose see the compact as a legislative overreach, as it expands gambling without a vote of the people. Florida Voters overwhelmingly passed an amendment that requires all gambling expansion in Florida to be approved by the voters.  Fox continues:   

But John Sowinski, the campaign manager of the political committee behind the amendment, said sports betting and several other provisions in the proposed compact, which would allow the Seminoles to add craps and roulette to their current casino operations, run afoul of the Constitution.

The amendment, which was approved by 71 percent of Florida voters, “requires voter approval for any new casino gambling,” Sowinski said Friday in a prepared statement.

“That includes sports gambling, player designated games, craps, roulette, moving slot machine permits, and any other form of Class III gambling,” he said, referring to federal law classifications of tribal gaming. “The proposed compact violates the letter and spirit of Amendment 3. We call on the governor and our legislators to honor the will of the people, who demanded that any new casino gambling authorization occur at the ballot box, not behind closed doors in Tallahassee.”

Gov. DeSantis said he is willing to vicariously defend the agreement, claiming that this gambling is not in Florida, as Amendment 3 covers, but the sovereign land of the Seminole Tribe.  The agreement also allows for mobile gambling, which would clearly take place by people off the reservation and on actual public land.  Gov. DeSantis claims that because the servers are on tribal land, there is no violation.  However, a similar case was heard in CA and it could hurt that very argument.  An online source explains:

They would also have to argue that statewide mobile betting, accessible to gamblers outside the Seminole reservations, does not constitute gambling expansion in the state because servers are located on Seminole land.

This potentially conflicts with a 2016 federal court ruling against the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel When, in 2014, the Nation launched an online bingo site in California on the grounds that bets were being processed on its territory, they were swiftly sued by the State of California and the federal government. Ultimately, the court ruled “a bet must be legal both where it is initiated and where it is received.”

It may never come to that. While the bill has the backing it needs in the Senate, support is less assured in the House, which has become a graveyard for gambling expansion bills in recent years.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Proposed Florida Legislation Seeks to Expand Gambling Through Various Decoupling Efforts

Casino Watch Focus has reported on various efforts to expand gambling in Florida through a process known as decoupling.  Currently most gambling in Florida is either through tribal casinos or allowed at facilities that complement live horse and dog racing.  Decoupling occurs when those two items no longer need be paired in order for the gambling to be legalized.  A facility could get a gambling permit for slot machines, but not need to have the dog or horse racing.  Florida voters passed an Amendment that made live greyhound racing illegal.  Those facilities have other gambling on-site and the issue of whether they can be decoupled has been contemplated.  A new set of bills have been introduced that seeks to decouple the greyhound industry but also expand gambling through decoupling other gambling activities as well.  Florida Politics explains:

The House Commerce Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would decouple casino gambling permits not just from dog racing tracks that are out of business but from jai alai frontons and harness racing tracks as well.

PCB 21-05, introduced by Republican Rep. Chris Latvala, is one of three gaming-related proposed committee bills introduced Wednesday in the Commerce Committee. Chair Rep. *Blaise Ingoglia* advised they were being floated only as just-in-case measures, should the Legislature take up gambling in this Session. Another bill, PCB 21-03, would create a Florida Gaming Control Commission and give it broad oversight and enforcement authority over Florida gaming. A third bill, PCB 21-04, would exempt some of the commission’s records from public records. 

Those two bills flew through the Commerce Committee with little discussion and no opposition. PCB 21-05 drew heated debate. It deals with the aftermath of Florida voter approval of a greyhound racing ban in 2018. Those dog tracks are closed or closing, but some still have game rooms. But Florida law says those game rooms must be coupled with pari-mutuel operations, and the racing is gone. The bill would decouple greyhound track companies’ casinos from the race tracks. Yet the bill extends the same decoupling to jai alai frontons, which nearly are gone in Florida, and to harness racing tracks, which supports the quarter horse community.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Live Greyhound Racing Officially Comes to an End in Florida Virtually Eliminating the Gambling Sport throughout the Country

Casino Watch Focus has reported on Florida’s Amendment 13, which made live dog racing illegal in the state.  There was a transitional period to allow tracks time to transition their business model and find homes for all the greyhounds used in those races.  That time has come and Florida now joins the vast majority of the states that no longer allow greyhound racing.  Florida was such a large player, that the entire industry is seemingly on its way out.  NBC News reports:

The dog racing “mecca” of Florida ran its final greyhound contests Thursday night as the gambling mainstay strides closer to its potential demise across America.

The clock struck midnight when a speedy pooch named Bug Brush crossed the finish line to win the final race at Palm Beach Kennel Club in West Palm Beach and brought a curtain on the sport in Florida.

A little more than 25 months ago, state voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 13, outlawing greyhound races, starting in 2021, and issuing what could amount to a national death sentence for the century-old U.S. sport.

With the state now out of the greyhound-running business, four tracks in three states — West Virginia, Arkansas and Iowa — are left still chasing rabbits.

When Amendment 13 passed in 2018, Florida had 11 of America’s 17 dog tracks, which were spread out across six states. Earlier this year, tracks in Texas and Alabama went out of business.

“Florida was the mecca (of dog racing), the base, the largest state with the most tracks,” Humane Society Florida Director Kate MacFall told NBC News recently, celebrating her state’s role in the sport’s decline. “Now this industry has withered.”

Those who have been long involved in the battle to end dog racing believe they still have unfinished business and are working to end the gambling practice in the few remaining legal jurisdictions.  NBC News continues:

With Florida’s ban now in place, there are laws on the books in 41 states against the sport, according to Christine Dorchak, co-founder of the anti-racing group GREY2K. Not yet satisfied with the sport’s near-comatose state, Dorchak said her group is pushing for federal legislation against greyhound racing that she insists has bi-partisan support.

Even without the work of animal activists like GREY2K, the Humane Society and the late singer Doris Day, dog racing has been losing at the bottom line with gamblers for years.

It’s believed Arkansas and Iowa could soon be done with the sport. Operators of Southland Casino Racing, in West Memphis, Arkansas, have already said they’ll stop running by Dec. 31 2022. A subsidy to the Iowa greyhound industry sunsets at the end of 2022, which could finish dog racing two years from now in the Hawkeye State. Dog racing’s demise comes as Americans — at least pre-coronavirus — gamble more than ever before.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Missouri Casino Expansion via Lake of the Ozark Bill Dies – Initiative Petition to bypass the Legislators Seems Likely

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many attempts at legalizing casinos near Osage Beach at the Lake of the Ozarks.  The Missouri constitution very clearly limits casino gambling to the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, but attempts have been made for over a decade to expand gambling to that part of the state.  New attempts have been made, but those legislative efforts appear to have come to an end, leaving an initiative petition as the new driving effort.  A local new source reports:

Hopes for a casino at the Lake of the Ozarks have been dealt a serious blow. Missouri House Joint Resolution 87, which could have paved the way for a possible gambling boat on the Osage River below Bagnell Dam, has succumbed to the woes of COVID-19.

“It’s dead,” HJR 87 sponsor and proponent Rep. Rocky Miller said this week. “I would have liked for a possible casino to go through the existing proven structure, but I am fairly certain a Ballot Initiative Petition process will begin now.”

In this scenario, a ballot initiative would need to get the required number of signatures to be placed on the ballot, and then the ballot petition would need to win at the polls.  The last ballot initiative that passed was reportedly due, in large part, to the cap of 13 casinos in the state.  Its unclear if there is actual support to amend the constitution once again to allow 14, 15 or even 16 casinos in Missouri.  An online source explains:

Osage River Gambling had already been working on changing Missouri law to bring a casino (or three) to Lake of the Ozarks, via a Citizen’s Initiative Petition (CIP). A CIP would bypass the Missouri legislature and put a constitutional amendment straight to the voters… The CIP would also seek to add three new casino licenses to the current state maximum, bringing it up to 16.

It’s a plan built for high-rollers: the CIP will cost $1 million, the group expects. But they already have the money set aside. They have also polled the ballot language. “It passed easy: 67 percent,” Hand said. That was with the addition of the Osage River and no new licenses, though; investors expect a CIP’s passage to become tougher with the addition of new licenses. Gaming companies with existing Missouri casinos would oppose it.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Court Rules Florida Greyhound Amendment doesn’t Violate 5th Amendment

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the various efforts to shut down greyhound racing in Florida.  The direct issue of live dog racing was settled with voter support in favor of a constitutional ban on live races in Florida.  The facilities are still allowed to show simulcast races and they can still operate as mini casinos as the amendment didn’t shut down their existing slot machine offerings.  However, even with that much operating ability under the new law, facility owners challenged the law claiming it violated the 5th Amendment by taking away their property.  That case has now been dismissed by the Florida court.  An online source explains:

A federal judge in Florida has dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the state’s greyhound racing ban on constitutional grounds. Chief US District Judge Mark Walker said in a 55-page ruling this week that the prohibition was a “legitimate exercise in Florida’s police power,” rejecting the plaintiffs’ arguments that the ban represented an illegal “taking of property” without just compensation.

Walker ruled that Florida had used its police powers to prevent “plaintiffs’ property from being used in a particular manner that the State has determined to be contrary to the health, morals, or safety of the community.”

The plaintiffs also argued the amendment had violated their equal protection rights because the State of Florida continued to permit wagering on horse racing. The lawsuit claimed dog racing had been singled out because it was “politically unpopular.” But the judge rejected the equal protection claim because Amendment 13 “does not involve suspect classes such as race, gender, or national origin.”

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Florida seeks dismissal of Greyhound Industry’s lawsuit aimed at Amendment 13

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the Florida greyhound landscape and the most recent voter vote to ban greyhound racing. Recently, a lawsuit was filed by the industry claiming the government was taking its property with the new law. This particular angle was likely the only one lawyers though they might have a reasonable chance of winning considering how overwhelming the vote was in favor of banning greyhound racing by the people. The fact that the people voted to stop this form of gambling, is exactly why Florida has asked the courts to dismiss the lawsuit. An online source explains:

Attorney General Ashley Moody, Gov. Ron DeSantis and his administration have asked a federal judge to toss out a lawsuit challenging a 2018 constitutional amendment that banned greyhound racing in Florida. Members of the greyhound industry alleged in the legal challenge that they were denied due process after voters approved the amendment.

But on Friday, state lawyers asked the federal court to dismiss the case, saying the plaintiffs “cannot sue the governor or member of his Cabinet over a proper vote taken by the people of Florida.” The court does not have the authority to grant an injunction because “there is in fact no government action to stop,” Moody’s lawyers argued.

In addition, the state argued that gambling on dog racing is a “privilege,” and not a property right, as the plaintiffs maintained. If the court does not dismiss the case, the state asked that it be moved from the Southern District of Florida to Tallahassee.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Florida Greyhound Ban Amendment Lawsuit filed to Obtain Damages, but does the Lawsuit have Merit?

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the various development of Florida Amendment 13, which bans greyhound racing in the state. Voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of the ban, despite some potential issues with decoupling the gambling from the tracks, an issue known as decoupling. Voters also passed Amendment 3 though, a provision that prevents the legislature from authorizing new forms of gambling without state-wide voter approval. Several tracks have already stopped the live races, but still offer the gambling options they provided prior to the closure. For now, actually expansion of gambling through decoupling hasn’t been addressed, though it seems fairly clear that any expansion of the gambling that was previously allowed, should most certainly require voter approval. Regardless, the Amendment didn’t actually prevent all the gambling at the tracks that many who supported the proposal had hopped or assumed, as the decoupling issue was complicated and most simply wanted to see the live races stop. There is still a lot of gambling and a lot of money being made at various tracks. However, at least one track believes that Amendment 13 took away the value of their facility, and thus they are entitled to compensation. Recently, it was announced that a lawsuit could be filed in an effort to overturn Amendment 13. A lawsuit has now been filed, but this one only seeking compensation. The Orlando Sentinel reports: 

Christopher D’Arcy, owner of D’Arcy Kennel LLC in St. Petersburg, wants a judge to order the state to pay damages for the loss of value of his property, including racing dogs that the lawsuit said could previously be sold for up to $50,000.

Voters in November approved a constitutional amendment, known as Amendment 13, that will shut down Florida’s decades-old greyhound racing industry by a Dec. 31, 2020, deadline.

The lawsuit was announced Monday by the Florida Greyhound Association, an industry group that fought the constitutional amendment, which came after years of calls by animal-rights groups to ban dog racing in the state. The measure easily passed, with support of 69 percent of the voters.

The Florida Greyhound Association went to court last year in an unsuccessful attempt to keep the constitutional amendment off the ballot. The new lawsuit does not try to overturn the amendment but seeks damages under the Florida Constitution and the U.S. Constitution. It makes a claim for what is known as “inverse condemnation” and contends that the amendment was a “taking” of property without compensation.

The main question is whether or not this claim has merit. Clearly these tracks can still offer gambling, which in and of itself provides value to the owners. The Orlando Sentinel continues:

Christine Dorchak, president and general counsel of GREY2K USA, disputed the arguments raised in the D’Arcy lawsuit and said the kennel owner is not owed compensation. “No property is taken under Amendment 13, and this humane law simply phases out an industry that is cruel and inhumane,” Dorchak said in a emailed statement. “Unlike the pig farmer who could no longer use his gestation crates at all, the track land and the dogs themselves retain value.” While greyhound tracks face a Dec. 31, 2020, deadline for ending racing, they were able to stop racing at the beginning of this year. In the past, tracks had been required to run races to offer more-lucrative types of gambling, such as card rooms.

However, the issue of whether or not property has actually lost value can be addressed outside of the decoupling purview, and there are those that don’t think the case has any legitimate legs to stand on given the gambling nature of dog racing in general. Florida Politics online reports: 

One of the lead backers of last year’s successful state constitutional amendment to ban greyhound racing has told legislative leaders that a lawsuit against the measure is “dubious” and “frivolous.”

Carey Theil, executive director of GREY2K USA Worldwide, which aims to permanently end dog racing, sent a letter Monday to state Rep. *David Santiago*, chair of the House Gaming Control Subcommittee, and state Sen. *Wilton Simpson*, who chairs the Senate Committee on Innovation, Industry and Technology, which oversees gambling issues. “We believe this lawsuit is without merit and will be rejected,” Theil wrote. “As you know, no property is taken under Amendment 13, and (it) simply phases out an activity that voters have found to be cruel and inhumane.”

A similar claim was brought in Massachusetts in 20111, he added, resulting in a ruling against a kennel owner. A judge found that the owner “could have no reasonable investment-backed expectations in its greyhound kennel business” because “it operates in the highly-regulated gaming industry.” “Rather than to obstruct adoption efforts and file frivolous lawsuits, the industry would be better served working to ensure there is a successful transition for every track worker and every greyhound,” Theil told the lawmakers.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

 


Greyhound Industry Seeks to Overturn Florida’s Amendment 13 that Bans Live Races

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the recent attempts to ban dog racing in Florida. Voters passed Amendment 13, which banned live greyhound races. The issue was anything but straight forward, as many voters wanted to eliminate the gambling that goes along with dog racing as well. However, the bill simply decoupled the live racing requirement from the gambling that took place at the tracks. The bill allows gambling on races that are simulcast and leaves open the possibility for existing slot machine gambling to be allowed even though the track doesn’t support live racing. However, Florida voters also passed Amendment 3, which requires voter approval for any expansion of gambling. This would seemingly mean new “tracks” couldn’t go up that are essentially just mini slot machine casinos that offer simulcast dog races. The true decoupling implications and the actual landscape of how slot machine gambling will expand as a result is uncertain until such mini casinos attempt to be built or expanded and all the legal posturing takes place. However, the seemingly clear issue of live dog races being banned in Florida may not be as certain either. It has been announced that a new group has been formed with the goal of legally challenging Amendment 13. Orlando Weekly reports:

Amendment 13, which passed with a 69 percent “yes” vote last year, banned betting on greyhound races in Florida. Now, the head of a pro-greyhound racing group says they’re fighting to bring the so-called sport back.

In a public Facebook post last week, Jennifer Newcome, chairman of the Committee to Support Greyhounds, announced the group’s intention to move forward with challenging the amendment in court.

Newcome said the group plans to file the case in July. The group adds on their website: “Greyhound Nation did not back down before, and we refuse to stop until the last judge says ‘NO.'”

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

 


With Florida Dog Racing Now Banned by Voters, Will the Legislature Bail out the Industry?

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing happenings to end dog racing in Florida. Most recently, and amendment was passed by Florida voters to end dog racing. The amendment doesn’t end all gambling at these facilities, but it does clearly mandate that all live dog racing must come to an end. The racing industry immediately engaged in talks with Florida legislators to determine what bail out package would be offered to offset the expense of the animals and to help facilitate their adoption. Nothing has been truly decided, but legislators were very quick to point out that the amendment itself doesn’t mandate any kind of bail out. Naturally, the industry disagrees and it trying to seek compensation. Florida Politics reports:

One of the main proponents of the state’s recently passed ban on dog racing is telling legislators it’s “not necessary” to pass a bill “implementing” *Amendment 13— and that includes a bailout for the greyhound industry. But an industry lobbyist says it’s absolutely needed — and required. 

To be clear, “we are not opposed to such legislation and, if it is filed, urge you to include funding for greyhound adoption,” said *Carey M. Theil*, executive director of *GREY2K USA Worldwide, a greyhound protection group.

He penned a letter to House Gaming Control Subcommittee Chairman David Santiago, a Deltona Republican, on Friday. The subcommittee meets Wednesday to receive an update by the “Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering on the implementation of Amendment 13,” according to an online agenda.

“However, such legislation is not necessary by any means,” Theil wrote. “The false perception that an Amendment 13 implementation bill must pass would likely serve only to create a legislative vehicle for other changes in law.”

Shortly after the amendment passed, some breeders and trainers started talking about lawmakers cushioning the blow of the loss of income with a payout. At least one legislative leader quickly tamped down that idea: “Coming and asking for a compensation package is probably a tough row to hoe for them,” Senate President *Bill* *Galvano*, a Bradenton Republican, has said.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

 


Casino Billionaire buys Florida Casino after Amendment 3 is Passed by the People

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many efforts to expand gambling in Florida, specifically via full blown, Vegas-style resort casinos. Most efforts have failed to produce any meaningful gambling expansion. Most recently, Amendment 3 was passed by Florida Voters, meaning future gambling expansion efforts must be voted on by the people, making such gambling expansion far less likely given the current climate. So a new casino property acquisition by a well-known Las Vegas casino mogul has raised a few questions about intent. As one online source reportsPhil Ruffin has acquired a new casino property in Florida with the intent of some kind of expansion, the extent of which isn’t yet know:

Phil Ruffin is well known in the casino industry as the owner of the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The 83-year-old billionaire is looking to expand his domain and has now purchased the Casino Miami near the Miami International Airport in Florida.

The 200,000-square-foot casino is located less than 20 minutes from Downtown Miami. It features 1,000 “Vegas-style” gaming machines (and has a license for as many as 2,000) and an electronic table game area, along with live entertainment, live jai-alai and simulcast betting. The amount paid for Ruffin to acquire the casino was not released, but he said, “I look forward to entering the Miami gaming market through this acquisition. We have exciting plans for Casino Miami that we will be revealing in the near future.”

The purchase follows a state referendum vote last month that removed power to decide gaming-relating issues from lawmakers and gave it to voters. Going forward, any new gambling expansion will have to be voted on by citizens. Commercial casinos remain banned and house-banked games, such as roulette and blackjack, are only allowed by the Seminole Indian tribe Getting into Florida through Casino Miami is a way for Ruffin to develop a foothold ahead of any future expansion.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Will Florida Amendment 3 Push the NFL’s Jaguars to London?

Casino Watch Focus has long reported on the many faces of sports betting. With a fairly recent Supreme Court decision that allows for sports betting, many states have expanded in many ways. Florida had yet to pass legislation to legalize sports betting, so everything from daily fantasy sports to full sports books, remains open in Florida. Recently, the NFL has started shifting advocacy to support sports gambling and individual teams will be able to set up sponsorships like the Dallas Cowboys have done with a casino in their market. The Miami Dolphins came out against Amendment 3 and now there is talk about the Jaguars being more open to moving to London to avoid the current lack of open sports betting options in Florida. The NESN sports network explains: 

The future of legalized sports betting in Florida looks bleak at best, and one prominent NFL reporter thinks that could significantly alter the league’s landscapes in years to come. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio on Wednesday morning wondered whether the new law makes it more likely Jaguars owner Shad Khan will ultimately move the team to London. “The passage of the new amendment that, as a practical matter, will make it much harder to adopt sports wagering (and in turn create revenue streams like in-game prop bets) could make a relocation to London even more attractive to Khan,” Florio wrote. 

Speculation about Khad moving the Jaguars to London has existed almost since Khad bought the team in 2011. Khan’s purchase of English soccer club Fulham in 2013 only fanned those flames, and there’s been increased chatter about a potential relocation in recent years. Sports betting is far more prominent in the English soccer world, with no shortage of English Premier League partnerships. What’s more is that in-game betting is also allowed, and fans can place those bets from inside the stadium. The latest developments in Florida not only ensure in-game wagering won’t be coming to the Sunshine State anytime soon. It will also make it harder for the state’s pro sports teams to partner with sportsbooks because, well, the sportsbooks aren’t coming to Florida.

There are a lot of variables to the level of profitability form gambling NFL teams will even see, not to mention all of the logistical issues with the NFL having a team in London in general. Its hard to imagine that the chance of side gambling profits, profits that barely exist in the league at the moment, would be enough to move a team. This will undoubtedly be a developing story, but the move to London has been a topic since 2011, so its unlikely Florida NFL fans have much to worry about right now. 

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

 


Florida Votes to End Dog Racing – What Comes Next?

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the complicated decoupling issue masked as a simple greyhound ban that later officially became known as Amendment 13The amendment needed 60% voter approval to pass and it received 69%. At face, the Amendment will end live dog racing at the end of 2020, but many questions remain. The Amendment also decoupled the gambling requirements at those facilities from the actual live racing.   This means the facilities aren’t shut down completely, but they can offer simulcast races and slot machines and other prior authorized forms of gambling. The Orland Sentinel explains that some tracks will operate as these mini-casino’s, while others will have fewer options:

While all other tracks in Florida also have card rooms to supplement their dog-racing revenue, Sanford Orlando does not, making its future more tentative.

Florida’s 11 active dog tracks will have until Jan. 1, 2021, to phase out their live greyhound racing. They’ll still be able to race horses, if their tracks can accommodate the event, and they’ll still be able to have wagering on simulcast races from other tracks, including from dog tracks in the five remaining states where the practice is still active and legal.

The questions of how much gambling expansion will also need exploring thanks to the passage of Amendment 3, which will now require voter approval for new gambling. This is a bit of a grey area as it may seem clear that a new simulcast track may not be able to be built without voter approval (a key worry with decoupling as it would be far easier to set up a simulcast location and operate as a mini-casino via decoupling), but expanding the gambling at an existing location may be perfectly permitable. The key example is the number of slot machines. The Sun Sentinel explains how existing tracks could simply drastically increase their numbers as the amount allowed is already established: 

Dog track owners in Florida will be allowed to keep operating card rooms. They’ll be able to run slots in the case of dog tracks in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. So, another result could be that track owners will use their space to expand restaurants and nightlife, or even casino floor space. In turn, the combination of anti-gambling expansion Amendment 3 and anti-dog racing Amendment 13 could mean already existing casinos offer more entertainment options for patrons. 

There already is an example of that. The Magic City Casino in Miami had been a dog track until last year, when the state Department of Business andProfessional Regulation gave it permission to convert to ajai-alai fronton.

The decision capped off a six-year legal fight between the casino and state regulators. With the jai-alai court taking up far less room than the track, Magic City Casino has plans to expand by putting the jai-alai court where its entertainment venue, Stage 305, is now and then building a much bigger entertainment venue on top of the old dog track.

The Big Easy Casino, a Hallandale Beach dog track, would have to stop racing within three years. What might be in store? An option for the Big Easy could be to expand lucrative slot machines. According to its own website, the casino currently offers “more than 500” slot machines. The upper limit for perimutuel casinos under state law is 2,000, though none of them at this point have approached that limit. 

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Florida Voters Pass Amendment 3 to take Control of Casino Gambling

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the evolution of the Voters in Charge which later officially became know under the title Amendment 3The Amendment sought to give the final approval of expanded gambling to the voters. If passed, new gambling would require approval of 60% of all Florida voters, which is clearly aimed at taking the power away from the politicians. The Amendment required 60% approval to pass and the Amendment 3 pass by an overwhelming amount. The Tampa Bay Times reports: 

Floridians will retain exclusive rights to authorize and potentially expand casino gambling in the state, including slot machines and electronic betting games.

Amendment 3, which garnered about 71 percent of the vote Tuesday, was proposed by Voters in Charge — a political committee largely financed by the Seminole Tribe and Disney.

The ballot initiative came about after the Legislature failed to agree on gambling decisions in recent years — particularly in the House, which is more opposed to gambling than the Senate.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce supports the amendment.

 For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Guest Article: CEO of Florida Chamber of Commers supports Yes on Amendment 3

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing progression of Amendment 3 – Voter Control of Gambling in Florida.  Numerous sources have provided support for the amendment, but perhaps one of the most telling is the support it gets from the Florida Chamber of Commerce.  Below is the guest article by CEO Mark Wilson as published by The Florida Times Union:

The Florida Chamber of Commerce has long advocated for restraint in amending Florida’s Constitution. We believe our constitution should only be amended in rare and extraordinary circumstances.

Amendment 3, which would require voter approval of future gambling expansion, meets that threshold. Keep in mind, Florida is creating 1 out of 11 new jobs in America. We don’t need the casino industry, they need Florida.

Rather than introduce anything new, the amendment simply reinforces language already in the constitution — a provision that gives voters the final say on gambling decisions. Florida voters inserted that protection in 1968 and it’s important we don’t let politicians work around it.

Their reasons for doing so remain valid today. The widespread introduction of Las Vegas-style casinos in Florida brings dubious benefits and potentially serious consequences for our state. Any decision to go in this direction should be done so with due diligence, much caution and voter input.

Voters exercised such caution when considering five gambling referendums from 1978 to 2004. Three times they rejected large casino resorts in Florida. But they also approved the Florida Lottery and the limited introduction of slot machines in Broward and Miami-Dade pari-mutuels.

Since 2005, when Florida lawmakers began attempting to take over gambling decisions, the restraint of voters has been replaced by the politics of Tallahassee. The drumbeat for more and bigger casinos from the powerful gambling lobby has been loud and non-stop.

There is no end game here. No matter how many casinos might be approved, there always will be pressure for more. We have seen this in other states, where the gambling industry continues to push for expansion even in markets so glutted that existing casinos are losing business and even going bankrupt, sometimes at taxpayer expense.

Consider New Jersey. The Atlantic City casino market imploded in 2014 because of an over-saturated market, throwing thousands out of jobs and the city into an economic depression.

However, New Jersey requires voter approval of gambling expansion. And by an overwhelming margin, voters rejected new casinos.

Voters serve as a controlling mechanism on an industry that often has no self-control of its own. They slow down decision-making and ensure the pros and cons of casino expansion are fully and publicly vetted.

As the organization representing Florida businesses, the Florida Chamber is focused on making Florida more competitive, and the casino business model is anything but that. It is not one that grows the economic pie, but rather one that often cannibalizes existing economic activity.

Casinos represent the past, whereas Florida is moving into the future.

This year Florida’s GDP topped $1 trillion, which if we were a country would place us 17th in the world. Florida’s economy is the 20th most diversified economy in American and wages are increasing.

U.S. News & World Report ranked us first nationally in higher education and the University of Florida now ranks among the top 10 public universities.

Noted University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith describes Florida’s recovery from the Great Recession as “Phoenix-like.” One reason for that is Florida’s remarkably resilient tourism industry.

The Florida Chamber sees strong economic growth in Florida for the next 30 years.

All this is not by accident. It is due to a competitive business climate, smart policies and strong fiscal leadership.

The international casino conglomerates are desperate to get a toehold in Florida, not to add to what we have created but to feed off it.

Florida has come too far to go down this path without the people of Florida having a say. I’ll be voting yes on Amendment 3 because Florida’s future is worth protecting.

/Mark Wilson is CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Email:
mwilson@flchamber.com <mailto:mwilson@flchamber.com>./

 

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION