During the first quarter of 2022, Florida commercial gaming revenue set a quarterly record. Through the first three months of the year, the state’s non-tribal gaming operators earned $182 million.
The nine-figure sum was a 26.8% jump from the first quarter of 2021. The Sunshine State’s record revenue helped fuel success nationwide.
According to the American Gaming Association, commercial gaming revenue for the entire country totaled $14.31 billion. The figure falls just shy of the all-time record, which was set in the previous quarter. In the fourth quarter of 2021, commercial gaming revenue in the U.S. totaled $14.35 billion.
“Consumers continue to seek out gaming’s entertainment options in record numbers,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller in a statement. “Q1’s strong results build on the industry’s record year in 2021 despite continued headwinds from supply chain constraints, labor shortages, and the impact of soaring inflation.”
Florida commercial gaming revenue represents a small slice of the total pie
The Seminole Tribe is responsible for the overwhelming majority of Florida’s gaming revenue. According to the AGA, Florida reports roughly $3.21 billion in annual gross gaming revenue.
Let’s assume the pari-mutuels and a handful of other non-tribal entities keep revenue around $182 million for the rest of the year. It would result in about $728 million in commercial gaming revenue in 2022.
That leaves about $2.5 billion in revenue stemming from tribal gaming. And in Florida, the Seminoles are in charge of all the tribal casinos. In other words, only about 22% of the state’s gaming revenue comes from the pari-mutuels.
The disparity comes from the monopoly the tribe has on traditional casino games. Pari-mutuels are unable to spread house-backed card games like blackjack.
However, if the 2021 gaming compact is passed in the court system, that would change.
The compact could exacerbate the difference between commercial and tribal revenue
If a federal judge deems the compact legal, pari-mutuels would be allowed to spread those games. In exchange, the tribe can spread Class III games like craps and roulette.
The compact would also legalize sports betting through a ‘hub-and-spoke’ model. The model would make the Seminole Tribe the focal point of the Florida sports betting market.
Ultimately, the compact would increase gaming revenue all around by expanding options at all facilities. But the Seminole Tribe would likely increase its piece of the pie.
Last November, a federal judge ruled that compact violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
The ‘hub-and-spoke’ model would allow bettors from all over the state to bet with the Seminoles’ online sportsbook. But under the IGRA, anyone wagering with a tribal entity must be located on tribal property.
Ballot initiatives could trim disparity between tribal and commercial revenue
Last year, there were two gambling-related initiatives seeking to get on the 2022 ballot. One would allow non-Seminole entities to operate sportsbooks and the other would allow for commercial casinos in the state if it wasn’t within a 130-mile radius of a Seminole-owned property.
Both proposals failed to get enough signatures to get on the 2022 ballot. But after the Florida Supreme Court agreed to review the initiatives, they have a head start for the 2024 election cycle.
As a result, it seems likely that both issues will be in front of voters in 2024. If passed, these initiatives could give a huge boost to Florida’s commercial gaming revenue.