Supreme Court Strikes Down Law That Bans Betting on Sports Outside of Nevada—Here Is What It Means

Supreme Court Strikes Down Law That Bans Betting on Sports Outside of Nevada—Here Is What It Means
A police officer speaks with tourists before a decision was released allowing the legalization of sports betting at the Supreme Court in Washington on May 14, 2018. (Reuters/Joshua Roberts)

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The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law banning betting on sports outside of Nevada on May 14.

The ruling will allow the other 49 states to provide bookmaking and betting at casinos and racetracks, reported the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The 6-3 ruling by the nation’s highest court overturned a ruling by a court of appeals in New Jersey in 2016 that was based on the Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992.

Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority, said that Congress can make a new law regulating sports gambling directly but until it does “each state is free to act on its own.”

“Our job is to interpret the law Congress enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not,’’ the majority concluded.

New Jersey passed a law in 2012 that allowed sports betting in the state, prompting the NCAA (college basketball league) and other major sports leagues to sue the state, arguing that the law violated PASPA.

Other states ended up joining New Jersey in the court battle, seeking a ruling that would allow sports wagering to be offered.

While all major leagues were officially against gambling on sports, leaders of most leagues, except for the NFL, the football league notorious for being the least flexible of the major sports leagues, have expressed openness to legalized sports gambling. For instance, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a 2014 op-ed that sports betting should be legalized and regulated.

Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., whose congressional district consists of Las Vegas, said the May 14 ruling by the Supreme Court will protect consumers.

“A regulated market is always better than an unregulated one,” Titus said. “As the representative for Las Vegas I have seen the success of the booming, regulated sports betting market in Nevada.”

According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, Nevada sportsbooks made nearly $5 billion from sports betting last year.

The American Gaming Association estimated that people wage $154 billion nationwide on illegal sports betting.

“Today’s decision is a victory for the millions of Americans who seek to bet on sports in a safe and regulated manner,” said Geoff Freeman, American Gaming Association president and CEO, in a statement. “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.”


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