The US Supreme Court has nodded its head to commonsense as it overturned a 1992 federal law that banned sports betting in most of the country.
With 100s of millions dollars pumped into offshore sportsbooks every year, the Supreme Court has now given the green light to states to regulate and tax sports betting.
In making its decision the Supreme Court upheld a 2014 state law permitting sports betting at selected venues, but the ground breaking decision to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was the big announcement.
The State of New Jersey challenged PASPA and the positive decision will now have a flow-on effect in other states, with around 20 actively considering legislating sports betting and see it as a source of revenue.
The final vote from the nine Supreme Court Justices was 6-3.
American Gaming Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman said the decision to legalise sports betting was a win for the people and could lead to legilization in all 50 states.
“Today’s decision is a victory for the millions of Americans who seek to bet on sports in a safe and regulated manner,” he said.
“According to a Washington Post survey, a solid 55 percent of Americans believe it’s time to end the federal ban on sports betting.
“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. “
The news is a boon for the global gambling industry, with a regulated USA market one many will be fighting over. Share prices in gaming companies and casinos also rose in the wake of the news, with Scientific Gaming shares jumping 9 percent at 58.30, while other giants like 888 Holdings, GVC Holdings and William Hill Plc also showed positive signs.
One company already flagging its interest in expanding into sports betting is fantasy sports goliath DraftKings Inc.
“This ruling gives us the ability to further diversify our product offerings and build on our unique capacity to drive fan engagement,” company CEO Jason Robins said.
Mr Freeman in the AGA’s statement on the decision said it is their stance that this decision will help law enforcement stamp out illegal gambling.
“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,” he said.
“The AGA stands ready to work with all stakeholders – states, tribes, sports leagues, and law enforcement – to create a new regulatory environment that capitalizes on this opportunity to engage fans and boost local economies.”
The New Jersey ruling was pushed by Republican former Governor Chris Christie but it did not have unanimous support with many sporting organisation on record against legalising sports betting. These include the NFL, NBA and the NHL.
There are concerns the law could lead to match fixing and other integrity concerns.
What does the decision mean?
The next major step in legalising sports betting nationwide will come as the realisation that a patchwork of laws over the 50 states around sports betting is not viable long term. This will force the hand of federal legislators to bring in uniform laws surrounding gambling. This will take time but in the interim expect states to legalise sports betting with many companies having already positioned themselves to enter the New Jersey market.
Don’t think for a second this will stamp out the use of offshore, illegal sites immediately, because some states, like Pennsylvania and its 36% tax on betting revenue will make it impossible for state sanctioned sports betting to be competitive. While this decision has been a long time coming it’s likely we’re going to have to wait a little bit longer for a fully regulated US market.
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