New Florida Poll Shows Voters Want Say in Casino Expansion


The results of a new poll in Florida have been published, showing that most residents want to be able to decide if the Seminole Tribe should be able to offer expanded gambling.

For many states in the US, the residents in the individual state get to vote on changes to the constitution. In certain situations, such as with gambling law, states must have a referendum voted on by citizens in that state before any changes can occur. In Florida, the Seminole Tribe and Governor Ron DeSantis currently struck a deal to expand gambling. Some say the change needs to be approved by the voters and not just legislature. A new poll shows that most voters want to be able to decide on the gambling expansion with the tribe.

Details of the Deal and the Poll

In April, the governor and the tribe signed a deal that would mark the largest expansion of gambling in the state in many years. The compact is a Class III agreement that would allow the tribe to offer online sports betting, craps and roulette as well as sports betting in its casinos. Up to three new casinos could be constructed on tribal lands.

The deal must be approved by Florida legislature and if it is, the governor will sign it and it heads to the United States Department of the Interior for final approval. Some lawmakers though, feel that the state needs to see the change approved by voters before online gaming can come to pass.

Once the deal was signed, legal analysts started to come forward questioning the legality of the compact since it had an online betting component. State law requires all Class III gaming to only take place on the sovereign lands of the tribe. Gaming in this class is table games, slots, and sports betting.

The opponents of the change say that mobile sports betting does not fit into this condition, therefore it is violating the state laws. Those who are for the option, say that the servers of the sports betting services will be located on sovereign land, so it is okay.

A recent poll of voters found that 76% of those polled want to be able to have the final say on the Class III compact period, not just the online component. A small 13% group say that they support the lawmakers and governor making the decision.

Why Ask the People?

Back in 2018, the state decided to pass a law that changed the constitution. In this change, it gave the people of Florida the power to have the final say on any gambling changes. The referendum on the ballot passed with a large percentage of voters wanting to have the final say. Those who are opposed to the compact say that the decision to move forward goes against the legal change from just a few years ago.

According to the poll, a total of 66% of those surveyed said they think that the governor the Seminole Tribe’s new compact is ‘blatantly unconstitutional’. A small 15% said it is constitutional. The conductors of the poll revealed that most residents of Florida are worried that the change is illegal.

For the governor, he says it is. He feels that the opponents are just trying to delay the inevitable. Sports betting is already taking place online in the state and it is being conducted via offshore sites. DeSantis said that mobile sports betting operated by the tribe will take place via tribal lands with the servers and he feels it satisfies Amendment 3 from 2018.

The governor says that if anyone wants to contest it, the tribe and the state will be defending the compact they signed last month. It will be interesting to see if the compact holds up or if there will be a legal challenge from the public or perhaps within legislature.

Associate Writer: Geoff enjoys both live and online poker as well as casino games, and is particularly knowledgeable about the legal landscape of online gambling.