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Supreme Court Sports Betting Decision: The Future of Sports Gambling in America
5-10 States Up and Operational by NFL season This Fall
Are you ready to wager on some football . . . or baseball . . . or basketball . . . or hockey? Well, thanks to a 6-3 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, you may no longer be required to pack your bags for Las Vegas to do so. You know that old saying about what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas? Well, that was the approach the United States took toward legalized sports betting. It was OK in the state of Nevada, but it was taboo everywhere else in the country.
A Federal law established in 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), made it so but the highest court in the land ruled Monday that this law was unconstitutional, ignoring pleas to the contrary by all four major North American pro leagues, the NCAA, even the U.S. Department of Justice. In doing so, they laid the groundwork that would allow any of America's other 49 states to open legal sportsbooks.
So does this mean you'll be able to bet on your favorite sport in the comfort of your hometown? Not necessarily. Each state would be required to craft legislation to set the criteria for legalized sports betting, and as we all know, the wheels of government turn slowly, although some states, anticipating this ruling, had already begun work.
It's anticipated that between 5-10 states will be up and operational by NFL season this fall. It could be a matter of days in New Jersey, the state that challenged the law all the way to the Surpeme Court. Monmouth Park racetrack already has a working agreement in place with William Hill. Although, there is also the chance that the Federal government may opt to design a new law with a different want to prevent legal sports betting outside of Las Vegas, which could lead to a whole new court battle.
There's also the question of how teams will react to this decision now that it hasn't gone their way. Some of the pro leagues, most notably the NBA, hinted that they wouldn't be too upset to see gambling on sports legalized, but will these leagues be after a slice of the sports betting pie? That might be a hard sell, since the major pro leagues never went after any of the sports betting money that's been legally wagered in Las Vegas since 1949.
How this ruling will impact the many offshore sports betting entities that currently cater to U.S. customers is another concern. Many online sportsbooks ceased offering wagering opportunities to American bettors following the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) (2006).
Sites such as Bovada, 5Dimes, Bookmaker and BetOnline continued to take bets from U.S. customers, but once legalized sports betting is up and running, you'd have to think that more offshore betting companies will quickly return to accepting the U.S. market.
Britain Laid $20 billion in Legalized Sports Wagers
We need only to look at Britain to see how legalized sports betting can thrive in both the in person and the online format. Brits legally laid nearly $20 billion in legalized sports wagers last year, both at brick and mortar shops as well as via the WiFi on their mobile device. Gambling has simply become a part of the culture in the United Kingdom, and with so many live betting options now in play at sportsbooks, the only realistic way to make those wagers is on the internet.
In point of fact, this ruling could prove to be great for all of the parties involved. Offshore betting companies can move their operations back into the contiguous U.S. without fear of being raided by federal law enforcement officials. And sports seeking a way to bring people back to their games can certainly utilize betting on games to increase excitement about their sport.
The NHL has seen a significant uptick in legal wagers on its product since the Vegas Golden Knights began play this season. Baseball, a sport desperate to find a way to get young adults interested in its product, was just handed a golden goose. And let's face it, the reason why the NFL is America's game is sports betting. The first pointspreads were established in the 1940s and Vegas bookmaker Jimmy (The Greek) Snyder was breaking down games for CBS on The NFL Today in the 1970s.
If done right, there's no reason why legalized sports betting can't be a win for everyone involved.
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