Yes to Amendment 3 may mean No to sports betting in FLA for some time
Most Floridians watching television over the past month have felt perplexed during their viewing hours while being bombarded by ads for Amendment 3. A comforting plea to say “yes” to give voters the right to choose whether they wanted to expand casino gambling in the state. On paper, it seemed logical. After all, why would anyone want corporate America deciding their rights. OK. But more peculiar, these convincing messages dominantly outweighed the current Florida State Senate and Governor elections on the airwaves.
One mammoth asterisk here. Who was paying the millions of ad dollars to promote this message for voters? $45,000,000, as in the price tag: Corporate America, that’s who. And the 'who' is the Disney Corporation and the Seminole Nation, who currently control the monopoly on casino gambling and entertainment within the state. The committee known as Voters in Charge spent a whopping $13.6M in the final two weeks before November 6th to insure their victory.
It’s A Small World After All
The obvious reason these two corporate giants united in lobbying millions behind this effort was clear. A "yes" decision would provide a historical cluster of endless political fighting to provide support for extended casino gambling in the state. Allowing Florida voters to decide their gambling future has previously been tried, leading to this amendment. Their more than 60% yes vote (71.9%) on Tuesday will cause an even greater roadblock in the future toward potential legislation for additional corporate casino and sports betting expansion.
That includes sacred ground anywhere near the Disney World hub of Orlando and potential opportunity in the lucrative Miami market. Currently the Seminole Tribe has a monopoly within the state at several casino locations, including their highly successful Hard Rock anchor properties in Hollywood and Tampa, FL.
In fairness, the Seminoles have paid a huge price to maintain that stake by renewing billion-dollar agreements with the state of Florida. Still, the vote on Tuesday assures their dominance will continue for the foreseeable future or at least until their next compact with the state expires in 2019.
As for Disney, they long have exercised their mighty political power against gambling, often joining powerful church groups to rally behind family values. It’s ironic their mega partner here in getting Amendment 3 passed has been the Seminole Tribe, one of the largest Native American gaming entities in the U.S. No one ever envisioned Snow White dealing blackjack or Goofy wearing a tux at the baccarat table. But surely the ramifications for the future will be felt far and wide for Florida voters "getting their vote".
The State of Legalized Sports Gambling
Consider the state of legalized sports gambling in Florida dead for a long time. Without unified political agreement and an enthusiastic Seminole base, it will be stalled for months and perhaps years. A poorly timed side effect for the hot, new sports betting industry and by statistical evidence, one of the most lucrative sports wagering states in the U.S.
In a strange state of division, the NFL opposed the amendment leading up to Election Day. However, the Buccaneers contributed $500,000 to a political action committee that opposed the amendment. The day before the election, the Miami Dolphins tweeted their opposition, which was subsequently taken down by order of the NFL. This furthering sign shows the gold rush teams are embracing as potential co-op agreements to enhance financial opportunities following U.S. legalized gambling since May 14th. No doubt NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was furious to see the Dolphins put on the World Wide Web a message to Florida voters “to protect your right to bet on sports” by voting NO on Amendment 3.
How does the London Jaguars sound?
Another bizarre twist of fate involving this decision may affect the future of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Once a rumor, a potential move to London may now be in the forecast for a small market team that could provide dramatic financial reward.
Should the NFL provide its blessing, the current slate of four London games could expand to eight home games with London starting an international expansion. And hey, nothing could be more perfectly aligned than the "London Jaguars". With legalized sports wagering long embraced in England, it also provides a big head start for what could be a long-stalled sports betting market in Florida.
Although Jaguars owner Shad Khan has kept low-key about the possibility, he has been known for creative business moves. Adding fire to the flames, Khan purchased English soccer club Fulham in 2013 and has dropped hints about this possible option in the past.
The Bigger Picture
Although Amendment 3 seemingly affected the people in Florida, it might cast a shadow over the whole country very soon.
First, it could help motivate the NFL to re-evaluate their overall stance on legalized gambling. Combining that aspect are current wagering sponsorship deals springing up between casino organizations with NHL and NBA teams.
A winner in this outcome are offshore sportsbooks and certainly the top online sportsbooks embracing this political decision. Florida remains one of the top five markets in the U.S. for sports wagering.
Another symbol involves the overall posture involving U.S. legalized sports wagering for Native American casinos. Somewhat lukewarm to embrace the wave, the Seminoles could potentially evaluate their position involving Florida. It could also motivate tribes in other new legalized states to shape their casino policies as well. No doubt the YES vote on November 6th clearly decided it is in the Seminole tribe’s hands to dictate action for a long time.
Beautiful sportsbooks at only the Florida Hard Rock locations are certainly possible sometime in the future. Till then, I wouldn’t look for any parlay or teaser action at the Magic Kingdom.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, including previews and picks from Glenn, click here.