US Supreme Court Hands Victory to Legalize Sports Betting

Shihaam Isaacs

Last updated: May 16, 2018

Thousands of sports betting fans around the US celebrated upon hearing that the US Supreme Court struck down the 1992 federal law which enforced a ban on commercial sports betting in the majority of US states. The Supreme Court ruling effectively paves the way for the legalisation of wagers placed on a wide range of both amateur and professional sports every day. As it stands, the illegal sports betting industry in the US is currently worth an estimated $150 billion in annual revenue.

Most sports bettors see the announcement as having a positive knock-on effect which includes no longer having to resort to so-called black market sports betting with illegal bookmakers and offshore sports betting operators to name a few. The Supreme Court decision also opens doors for a more convenient and efficient sports betting system, including the ability to place all sorts of sports bets quickly and conveniently via mobile devices.

A Brief Look at the Law in Question

The US Supreme Court decision to overturn the law refers specifically to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which effectively prohibits US states from being able to authorise legitimate sports betting practices. One of the chief proponents of the law at the time was New Jersey Democrat, Senator Bill Bradley.

Bradley, who was once a professional basketball player, believed that the law was essential in protecting the integrity of sports. However, according to the US Supreme Court, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was unconstitutional and “an affront to state sovereignty” according to Justice Samuel A. Alito.

PASPA Repealed – What Does this Mean for American Sports Betting?

Within hours of the Supreme Court’s decision, state officials, various representatives within the casino and gaming industry and sports betting analysts reacted immediately to the news. More than half of the American sports fans polled in a recent Washington Post survey believed that the time was right to repeal PASPA and lift the federal ban on sports betting in the US. The ruling also opens up the way for sovereign tribal nations, as well as states to offer open and above board sports betting markets.

Chris Grove, head of sports betting practices at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming LLC, believes that many US states will proceed in “waves” in the wake of the lifting of the federal ban on sports. According to Grove, the first wave of US states to implement changes in policy such as New Jersey, Mississippi and Delaware, already have legal mechanisms in place, making it a fast and easy process to roll out new features and facilities for US sports bettors.

US states such as West Virginia are in the same boat with other US states like New York, California and Michigan, currently ironing out legislature to facilitate the new ruling. With the conservative estimate of around twenty US states ready to push ahead with legal sports betting, most believe that many other states will follow suit within the coming year.