On May 14, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act which prohibited most states from authorizing sports wagering. That will certainly be a big deal for many states, but shouldn’t be a major issue in Florida.
Florida has for a long time offered wagering on horses, dogs, cards, slots, and jai alai. Some might argue that some of these attractions are not “sports”, but Jai alai certainly is and flat horse racing has been called the “Sport of Kings” for as long as I can recall.
That being the case, there are certainly more positives than negatives to reap from the repudiation of that Act by the Supreme Court, including the undeniable fact that Florida will derive a great amount of additional tax revenue from the wagering on additional sports events. That should make it unnecessary to raise taxes on residents to support the current initiatives to improve our communities by protecting our children and our schools. In fact, the Florida legislature would get many kudos if it were to earmark the bulk of any such increase in revenues to address this issue.
Because not all states will adopt permissive sports wagering laws, our state should witness an increase in tourism because it will become an even more attractive venue for those interested in trying their luck at additional sporting events. Currently, Nevada benefits from its open door to gambling, but Florida can garner some of that business if it becomes a closer option for those now going west one or more times a year.
If the state regulates this new business opportunity properly, there should be increased transparency of the conduct of those involved in operating the businesses, thereby protecting against potential corruption. And, having legal betting options will strangle all those little illegal betting parlors that no one admits to ever having heard of or frequented.
To be sure, the new wagering atmosphere will bring some clouds as well as sunshine. There are already thousands of people in our country addicted to betting and having more opportunities could well make those numbers swell. These people also cause family strife by spending money needed to feed and house their spouses and children. But a portion of the new revenues could be used to provide help to this group that is not currently available.
Another possible victim of additional betting opportunities could well be the huge casinos and attendant businesses operated by our native Indian tribes. With more competition there may be fewer customers and, therefore, less revenue from that source for the state and for the tribes themselves.
Those opposing a more liberal approach to wagering also note that the state is already a prime tourist destination, and certainly a wholesome one for families, just because of our sunshine, sand and glistening seas. Who needs to muddy the water when we are doing just fine as we are.
Right? I don’t know. Whenever a business opportunity like this is made available, and the state stands to rake in additional millions in tax dollars, it is usually a safe bet that it makes it into our state’s laws and regulations. You’ll probably be able to bet on that too.