Many states moving quickly to allow betting, but it might be a while in Florida

On May 14, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 by ruling that the entire act was unconstitutional.

The act banned all sports betting throughout the United States with only a few exemptions, such as the gaming industry in Nevada. The Supreme Court's ruling was based on the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution, which states that “The Powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”.

With its ruling, the court said that Congress had unconstitutionally abused its power by passing the act and that each state should be responsible for deciding for itself whether to regulate sports betting. It is likely that the same line of reasoning will be argued by the pro-marijuana side if the court decides to review a case in the near future regarding the legality of the federal ban on marijuana.

Now that the court has handed down a decision, each state is able to regulate its own sports betting laws. Some are acting fast:

• Delaware legalized sports betting June 5. Delaware Gov. John Carney placed the first bet, $10 on the Philadelphia Phillies to win that day’s game.

• On June 7, New Jersey passed a bill allowing sports betting.

• Connecticut, Mississippi and West Virginia are all expected to legalize sports betting by the fall in time for football season.

• California, Illinois, Michigan and New York all have bills or constitutional amendments pending that may pass before the end of the year, as well.

The legalization of sports betting is supposed to help cut down on a black-market industry. It is estimated that Americans illegally wager more than $150 billion each year, either through local bookies or offshore sports books. New Jersey will tax all gambling at a 9.75 percent rate with hopes to stimulate the state's revenue and revive the dying tourist industry in Atlantic City.

As many as 20 other states are either considering or expected to consider legalization of sports betting by 2019 with more states likely to follow, especially if they see their neighboring states generating substantial revenue from sports betting.

In Florida, sports betting remains illegal and that seems unlikely to change in the near future. A proposed constitutional amendment and an existing agreement with the Seminole Indian Tribe currently stand in the way of clarity regarding the legalization of sports betting in Florida.

Amendment 3 will be on the Florida ballot in November, and if it passes, all casino-gambling decisions in Florida would require an amendment to Florida’s Constitution. If Amendment 3 passes, Florida’s legislature would no longer have the authority to create legislation related to casino gambling. The presence of Amendment 3 and the fact that this year’s session has already concluded makes it very unlikely that sports betting will become legal in Florida this year. Native American tribe agreements with the state of Florida will not be impacted by Amendment 3, nor will parimutuel wagering on horse racing and dog racing.

About one-half of the states in U.S. have gaming agreements with Native American tribes that give tribes the ability to conduct legal gambling operations. Currently, the Seminole tribe has a compact with Florida that pays the state more than $300 million a year for exclusive rights to many card games and slot machine operations in all counties but Miami-Dade and Broward. A renegotiation between the Seminoles and the state is also likely needed before legal sports betting makes its way to Florida.

Kevin Albaum is an attorney in the Elder Law Practice at Clark, Campbell, Lancaster & Munson, P.A. Questions can be submitted online to thelaw@cclmlaw.com.