The 2018 midterm elections were billed as a referendum on the presidency of Donald Trump and one of the most consequential of our lifetime. Enthusiasm on both sides sparked a record turnout of 113 million voters cast their ballots for Congress, state and local offices, and a number of ballot initiatives.
Proving the age-old mantra that ‘elections have consequences,’ several of the races and ballot questions will have a lasting impact on gambling in the United States.
A ballot measure that leaves all future expansions of gambling up to the voters easily carried the day in Florida, garnering 70 percent of the vote.
The artfully worded “Voter Control of Gambling in Florida,” also known as Amendment 3, was supported by a pair of unlikely allies, the Seminole Tribe (a current operator of tribal casinos in Florida) and the anti-gambling Disney.
With the passage of Amendment 3, the legislature can no longer expand gaming in the state without passing a constitutional amendment.
That gives the Seminoles an effective monopoly on casino gambling in the state. As such, expect to see only Seminole-friendly bills going forward. The tribe will have a lot of leverage should the state consider future expansions of gambling like sports betting.
Sports betting has pushed daily fantasy sports to the side in legislatures across the country, but there is still some residual momentum pushing some stragglers across the finish line.
Louisiana was one of those stragglers, passing DFS legislation earlier this year. However, final authorization required a ballot referendum, with residents of each parish deciding DFS’s fate.
When all the votes were tallied, DFS was authorized in 47 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes, including the major population centers of New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
“Virtually every metro area voted in favor,” Ronnie Jones, chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board told Legal Sports Report. “Those parishes represent about 92 percent of the state’s population and I think that number likely bodes well for any sports betting bill.”
The number of states that haven’t legalized casino gambling shrunk by one on Tuesday.
Arkansas voters approved a constitutional amendment that paves the way for casino gambling in the state. The measure, which passed with just over 54 percent of the vote, also explicitly legalizes sports betting, making Arkansas the eighth state to do so.
With Arkansas joining the ranks of casino states, the number of states without casinos (tribal or commercial) now stands at nine:
At least four of those states have flirted with legalizing casinos in recent years: Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia.
Online gambling advocates dodged two bullets in Michigan.
Rep. Brandt Iden found himself in a tight race to represent District 61 against challenger Alberta Griffin. At the end of the day, Iden prevailed by around 1,300 votes.
That’s good news for online gambling supporters, as Iden has been spearheading online gaming and sports betting efforts in the Michigan House.
The governor’s race was far less competitive. Attorney general and unapologetic online gambling prohibitionist Bill Schuette was handily beaten by Gretchen Whitmer by nine points. Whitmer will succeed outgoing Gov. Rick Snyder in January.
Schuette has signed on to the Sheldon Adelson-backed online gaming bans on several occasions, including the semi-annual letter from state attorneys general to the federal government.