The United States Supreme Court has struck down a federal law that has until now prohibited sports gambling. It is a landmark decision that gives states the green light to go ahead and legalise sports betting.
The court ruled 6-3 to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), a 1992 law that barred state-authorised sports betting with some exceptions. It has made Nevada the only state where a person can wager on the results of a single game.
States that now wish to offer legal sports betting are now free to do so, with New Jersey positioning to be the first. Delaware, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia are all among the states expected to get into the legal bookmaking game as soon as possible.
In the outcome of the six-year legal battle, the court ruled in favor of the state of New Jersey and against the NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball. The decision culminated in overturning the federal statute that the gaggle of professional sports leagues had determinedly stood by for more than twenty years.
“Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own,” the court wrote in summing up its opinion. “Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not.”, the Supreme Court concluded.
New Jersey’s Governor, Phil Murphy, celebrated the ruling, saying he was “thrilled” to see the high court overturn the “arbitrary ban.” In a prepared statement, Murphy said that he looks forward to working with the legislature to “enact a law authorising and regulating sports betting in the very near future.”
Impact of the overturn to be widespread
Research firms have estimated several days before the Supreme Court ruling, that 32 states would likely offer sports betting within five years. More than a dozen states supported New Jersey, which argued that the US Congress had exceeded its authority when passing the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, barring the states from authorising sports betting. New Jersey had said the Constitution allows Congress to pass laws barring wagering on sports, but that the Congress had over-reached and that it could not require the states to maintain the existing sports gambling prohibitions in place.
Professional Sports Leagues fought against the ruling
As the case played out over the last six years, the MLB and the NBA lobbied their position of expanding legal sports betting in several states, including in New York, Indiana, Connecticut, Illinois, West Virginia, Kansas and Missouri.
In a prepared statement, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said;
“We remain in favour of a federal framework that would provide a uniform approach to sports gambling in states that choose to permit it, but we will remain active in ongoing discussions with state legislatures”
“Regardless of the particulars of any future sports betting law, the integrity of our game remains our highest priority.” Mr Silver concluded.
The MLB said in its statement that the Supreme Court’s ruling will have “profound effects” and that it the MLB will “continue to seek the proper protections for our sport, in partnership with other professional sports.”
“Our most important priority is protecting the integrity of our games,” the MLB’s statement explained.
The MLB concluded by stating that; “We will continue to support legislation that creates air-tight coordination and partnerships between the state, the casino operators and the governing bodies in sports toward that goal.”
The NFL, NHL and NCAA, on the other hand, quietly sat on the sidelines awaiting the ruling, as if resigned to their collective fates.
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The reaction of the US Gaming Industry
Understandably, the US Gambling Industry is absolutely delighted with the Supreme Court ruling in favour of sports betting.
Geoff Freeman, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Gaming Association, made a statement noting that the Supreme Court’s ruling is “a victory for the millions of Americans who seek to bet on sports in a safe and regulated manner.”
“Today’s ruling makes it possible for states and sovereign tribal nations to give Americans what they want: an open, transparent, and responsible market for sports betting,” Freeman went on to say.
“Through smart, efficient regulation this new market will protect consumers, preserve the integrity of the games we love, empower law enforcement to fight illegal gambling, and generate new revenue for states, sporting bodies, broadcasters and many others.” Mr Freeman excitedly concluded.
Shares of casino operators and their games suppliers spiked on the news for the industry.
Scientific Games Corp., a slot machine developer and manufacturer that also processes bets for sports book operators, rose 9.8 per cent, whilst Caesars Entertainment Corp., the largest of all US casino operators, rose 6.3 per cent.
MGM Resorts International, the biggest owner of casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, also rose 6.3 per cent.
MGM had precipitated the Supreme Court ruling in the days before it was handed down by giving a presentation to its investors last in which it had sketched out a future of more professional sports teams in Las Vegas and a greater national presence in sports betting, both in online and land-based casinos.
What does the US Supreme Court’s ruling mean for Canada?
The U.S. joins other jurisdictions that have long allowed legalised sports betting, including big sports betting markets like Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and France.
Far from being detrimental to the Canadian sports betting industry, it has been determined that the increase of competition from the south will offer Canadians a greater choice and that local operators will step up to the plate in offering better services for their clients and a wider range of quality sports betting products.
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