Last month, Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, and the Seminole tribe announced that they had negotiated a gaming compact that would allow for the expansion of the activity in the state. While lawmakers and the tribe were pleased with the development, many Floridians and lawyers have taken to media outlets to share their sentiments regarding the technicalities of the compact. A recent poll has found that the vast majority of Florida’s residents would like to have a say on whether the Seminole Tribe should be allowed to expand gaming or not.
Last month, Gov. DeSantis shared that he had inked a renewed gaming compact with Florida’s Seminole tribe. While Gov. DeSantis was able to negotiate the compact, a feat considered impossible by many, Florida’s residents are not happy about the expansion set to take place in the Sunshine State.
According to the terms of the new compact, the tribe will be allowed to carry out class III gaming activities. This includes offering online sports wagering, roulette, craps and land-based sportsbook facilities at their brick-and-mortar gaming venues. In addition to this, the tribe would be granted permission to construct three new casinos on tribal lands.
The gaming compact between the Seminole tribe and DeSantis requires approval from state lawmakers. If this approval is received, DeSantis would then be allowed to add his signature to the document and send it off to the Department of the Interior for final review and federal approval. However, several legislators believe that Floridians should be granted the opportunity to vote on the expansion through a referendum. This is especially true for the online gambling allowances included in the compact.
It did not take long for lawyers and analysts to critique the gaming expansion compact and its online betting and gambling component. Opinions and outlooks regarding the deal were made public almost immediately after the governor and tribe made the official announcement. Florida law currently requires that all gambling activities and practices only take place on the tribe’s sovereign lands. This includes all gaming considered to be Class III such as sports betting, slot machines and table games.
Those who oppose the compact have shared that they find the introduction of mobile sports wagering to be unconstitutional. However, supporters of the measure have maintained that this is not true since all sports wagering servers would be placed on tribal land.
A poll of 800 Floridians who would vote on the matter found that 76% of participants believe that they should have the right to have their voices heard regarding the Class III gaming expansion compact which includes mobile sports wagering. Only 13% indicated that they are comfortable with leaving the expansion of gaming in Florida up to the Governor and Legislature.
This is not the first time that Florida residents have shown a keen interest in having their opinions considered. In 2018, voters backed a ballot referendum that resulted in the state constitution being altered to allow the people of Florida to determine the future of gaming in the state. John Sowinski, No Casinos President, stated that Floridians made their stance regarding this clear in 2018 when they voted on Amendment 3 that gives them power over gambling in the state. The poll recently conducted shows that Florida’s residents still feel strongly about their right to be heard today and understand that the compact violated the spirit and terms of Amendment 3.
The poll also asked participants whether they felt the gaming compact is blatantly unconstitutional. 66% of respondents said yes while only 15% said the opposite.
The poll was conducted by Rob Schmidt and Jim Mclaughlin. According to both men, the consensus is that Floridians are concerned about the Legislature and Governor’s right to authorize mobile sports betting. Most voters believe the predicate of the compact, housing sports betting servers on tribal lands to constitute gambling on sovereign land, does not follow the federal rules or the constitution of the state.
In response to the opposition, the Governor has shared that some are taking steps to delay something inevitable. Especially since mobile sports wagering is already taking place in the state, just in an unregulated and unsafe manner. DeSantis’ official statement on the topic of opposition to the compact included that mobile sports betting will still be operated on tribal lands and by the Seminoles and in his opinion, this satisfies the 2018 amendment. He concluded by stating that anyone who seeks to contest this will be met with defence from both the state and the tribe.