Supreme Court Makes It Easier for People to Win Big

Alexandra Eichner

Enacted in 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”) barred all but a small handful of states from legalizing sports betting.[1]  Sports betting had come to be so disfavored by so many members of the public and of the federal government, that Congress took matters into their own hands with this federal legislation.[2]  PASPA stood as federal law until May 18, 2018, which is when the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in its entirety due to the commandeering effect it had on the states.[3]  The Supreme Court said that PASPA unconstitutionally directed state legislatures by telling them that they were not allowed to repeal their own state laws that banned sports betting.[4]  With this ruling, the Supreme Court further cemented this anti-commandeering doctrine into law.[5]  The reasoning behind this Supreme Court opinion stands to not only effect legalized sports betting, but also subjects not related to gambling at all.[6]  Debates on sanctuary cities, gun control, and marijuana possession will likely feel repercussions of this Supreme Court decision.[7]  

While many people and organizations are in opposition to legalized sports betting—including a number of critical athletes, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”), and other sports leagues—many benefits are likely to follow sports gambling legalization efforts of the states.[8]  Sports gambling is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States today, and the recent Supreme Court decision to allow states to decide for themselves if they will allow sports betting will benefit both state and national economies by greatly increasing tax revenues.[9]  And that is not the only benefit.[10]  A safer market will be created for sports bettors, jobs will be created, a bigger economic impact will be felt, the integrity of sporting events will be better protected, people with a gambling addiction may help receive treatment faster, and the games will be more exciting for the leagues and viewers.[11]  

Many state legislatures are quickly reacting to this decision and are beginning to discuss possible legalization in their own states.[12]  A small handful have already enacted full scale sports gambling, while another handful have recently passed bills.[13]  Twelve others have introduced sports gambling bills that are awaiting passage.[14]  Almost half of the states have reacted to this news in some way and are engaged in efforts to move their state towards legalized sports gambling.[15]  

The State of Florida specifically has laws that prohibit sports gambling.[16]  These laws would need to be repealed or amended before sports betting would be legal in the state.[17]  These actions have not been taken by the Florida legislature yet.[18]  But that is not to say that Florida will not legalize sports gambling in the future.[19]  However, if Florida does, those legalization efforts may prove to be more challenging in that state than in some of the other states.[20]  For one, there are eight Indian owned and operated casinos in Florida.[21]  This throws a third party—one not too keen on adding sports gambling to the casinos—into the mix of negotiators for legalization.[22]  Second, a ballot initiative stands as an obstacle.[23]  Florida has an amendment on the ballot in November that, if passed, would require voter approval to expand gambling.[24]  It would no longer be left to the legislature.[25]  So the future of legal sports gambling in Florida is still an open question, and in the hands of future voters in November 2018.[26]  

[1].          Amy Howe, The 10th Amendment, Anti-Commandeering and Sports Betting:  In Plain English,
SCOTUS Blog (Aug. 14, 2017, 12:19 PM), 
[2].          See S. Rep. No. 102–248, at 5 (1992).
[3].          Murphy v. Nat’l Collegiate Athletic Ass’n, No. 16–476, slip op. at 31 (U.S. 2018).
[4].          Id.  
[5].          Mike Maharrey, Supreme Court’s Sports Gambling Opinion is a Rare and Major Win
for the Tenth Amendment, Tenth Amendment Center (May 14, 2018),
[6].          Ilya Somin, Sports Gambling Decision is a Major Victory for Federalism, Reason (May 14,
[7].          Id.
[8].          Adam Edelman, College Sports Warn Against Moves to Legalize Betting, NBC (Feb. 19, 2018),; Brett Smiley, 7 of the Biggest Potential Benefits of Legal, Regulated Sports Betting, Sports Handle (Aug. 23, 2017, 11:50 AM),  
[9].          Smiley, supra note 6.
[10].         Id.
[11].         Id.
[12].         See Ryan Rodenberg, State-by-State Sports Betting Bill Tracker, ESPN (June 29, 2018),
[13].         Id.
[14].         Id.
[15].         See id.
[16].         Id.
[17].         Rodenberg, supra note 10.
[18].         Id.
[19].         Id.
[20].         See Craig Davis & Gray Rohrer, Supreme Court Ruling Doesn’t Mean Sports Betting Will Come
to Florida Quickly — or at all, Sun Sentinel (May 14, 2018, 7:40 PM),; News Serv. of Fla., Florida, Seminoles Extend Gambling Deal, Sun Sentinel (Apr. 19, 2018,10:10 AM),
[21].         Florida Casinos, 500 Nations, (last visited July 28, 2018).
[22].         Shannon Green, Sports Betting Ruling:  The Good, Bad, and the Ugly for Florida, Orlando
Sentinel (May 15, 2018, 2:35 PM),
[23].         See Davis & Rohrer, supra note 18.
[24].         Id.
[25].         See id.
[26].         Id.

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