(Sponsored) In May 2018, the US Supreme Court backed New Jersey’s proposal to legalise sports betting. The decision overruled a 26-year-old federal law, which prohibited betting on basketball, football, baseball, and other sports in almost all states.
Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to overrule the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act 1992, which prohibited state-authorised sports betting with very few exceptions. When the law came into force, Nevada became the only state where people could bet on the outcome of a single game.
According to SuperBettingSites.com, 32 US states would introduce sports betting withing five years if the Supreme Court decision strikes down the 1992 federal law. What is more, the sports betting industry is estimated to generate $57 billion in annual revenues. By the way, according to the American Gaming Association, Americans spend about $150 billion on sports betting.
New Jersey’s Attempts
As mentioned, Supreme Court’s conclusion came in a case introduced by New Jersey. The state has been fighting to legalise sports betting for many years. New Jersey’s first attempt to legalese sports betting came in 2011, when voters decided to allow sports betting within the state. The decision was motivated by a drop in Atlantic City revenues.
The following year, in 2012, New Jersey legislators passed a law legalizing sports betting, with which the state directly challenged the 1992 federal law – according to the law, states are forbidden to authorize sports betting by law. Furthermore, New Jersey argued that Congress did not have the authority to pass the 1992 federal law. New Jersey legislators stated that even though the constitution gives Congress the authority to pass laws barring sports betting, it can not oblige states to comply with sports betting prohibitions.
All major US professional sports leagues, along with the federal government and the NCAA appealed to court to maintain the federal law. In court, all four professional sports leagues argued the New Jersey decision would challenge the integrity of their games. However, every league except for the NFL showed relative openness to the legalization of sports betting outside court. Nevertheless, New Jersey lost the battle in 2012, thus failing to legalese sports gambling.
The state tried a different approach in 2014 – abolishing laws which prohibit sports betting at racetracks and casinos. New Jersey’s argument was that removing laws from their books was not the same as allowing sports betting. Again, the state lost the legal battle in Supreme Court.
Decision and Aftermath
When forming its decision on the current case, Supreme Court took into account primarily whether the 1992 federal law was an example of commandeering conducted by federal government. Simply said, Supreme Court was concerned with whether the law stepped on the rights of Americans.
According to some, the Supreme Court decision might stimulate Congress to bring forward legislation to regulate sports betting across the U.S. The NFL announced it would support such a decision.
New Jersey is the immediate winner from the Supreme Court decision. According to experts, the state will introduce legal sports betting in the following weeks. But New Jersey is not the only state to introduce legal sports betting so quickly after the Supreme Court ruling.
Several states—Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Connecticut, New York, and Mississippi—have passed laws dependent on the Supreme Court decision. According to statistics, however, those states will need several months before introducing legal sports betting. Another 15 states are also working on legislation that will allow their citizens to legally gamble on sports.
“A Policy Choice”
As we already stated, Supreme Court overruled the entire federal law on a 6-3 vote. Justice Samuel Alito stated that the legalization of sports betting across the US does not mean requiring all states to allow sports betting.
Following the Supreme Court decision, Congress may decide to initiate legislation that would regulate sports betting across the country. If this does not happen, each state is free to push forward whatever regulation they find suitable.
In a written announcement, Supreme Court stated that legalisation of sports betting involves a vital policy choice, but that choice can not and will not be made by Supreme Court itself. Rather, it is up to Congress to draft the appropriate legislation (if it chooses to do so). Then, it will be the job of Supreme Court to interpret the legislation and determine whether it complies with the American constitution; the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act 1992 certainly does not.
According to experts, players’ unions, professional sports leagues, as well as most states, will require a portion of the revenues generated from sports betting.
The National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, the Major League Baseball, and even the National Collegiate Athletic Association – the governing body for intercollegiate sports – all protested the New Jersey law.