Supreme Court Gives Go Ahead to Legalise Sports Betting in All States

Last Monday, the Supreme Court overruled a federal law that prohibits any form of gambling on sporting events in the majority of states. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which came into play back in 1992, banned sports betting in most states, with the exception of Nevada, Montana, Oregon and Delaware. However, Nevada is the only state where Americans can bet on the outcome of a single game.

According to research that took place before the decision was announced, this ruling could mean that some 32 states will be offering sports betting over the next 5 years.

According to Justice Samuel Alito, “the legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make. Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own. Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the constitution. Paspa is not.”

The decision was a result of a case put forward by New Jersey, a state which has long been fighting for sports betting to be legalised, with more than a dozen states supporting it. On the other hand, the 4 biggest professional sports leagues in the country, namely the NBA, NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball, as well as the NCAA together with the federal government, tried to convince the court to keep the law, as to strike it down would signify hurting the integrity of sports.

However, the American Gaming Association evaluates that citizens already wager around $150bn illegally on sporting events every year.

The original law does not cover horse racing, which various states currently allow. New Jersey has forked out millions in legal fees to aim to legalise all forms of sports betting in casinos and racetracks, In fact, in 2012, the state’s lawmakers passed a vote to allow sports betting, thereby directly in conflict with the federal law. It was sued by the 4 major sports leagues previously mentioned together with the NCAA and ended up losing the case in court. However, this did not deter them from attempting a different tactic in 2014, by nullifying laws which bar sports betting. However, New Jersey lost the case once again and then decided to take it to the Supreme Court.