Sports betting have been illegal across the United States since the early 90’s, due to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. Only a few select states were given an exception to the law, such as Nevada, Montana, Oregon and Delaware and that was because they had approved some form of sports betting before the law took effect. Nevada was the only place where a person could gamble on the results of a single game; however this also meant that Nevada couldn’t have its own sports teams either, for fear of people fixing the game. Sports officials have been complaining for years that legalized wagering would lead to the corruption of their games through match-fixing and other forms of cheating.
However, on Monday May 14th, 2018, the United States Supreme Court overturned the 1992 federal law by a 6-3 vote, deeming it was unconstitutional; a move that opens up the country for legalized and regulated sports betting. States can now choose whether they want to allow sports betting in their state, or not.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 prohibited states from state-sanctioned sports gambling. This law also didn’t cover bets between friends or animal races, such as horse racing, which many states had already allowed. Since 2010, New Jersey has challenged the federal law, recognizing that the state was losing a potential stream of revenue. When New Jersey voters overwhelmingly voted to enact the Sports Wagering Act of 2012, the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB and the NCAA sued, siting the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. After merging with another lawsuit, and having the original name changed due to the change in state administration, the law was finally titled Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association. That’s when this law was taken back to court and the United States Supreme Court made it’s the final decision in 2018.
This decision is certain to result in some significant changes throughout the years; however, whether this transformation will be positive or negative, is too soon to tell. There’ll no longer be a black market of bookies and offshore wagering operations soliciting bets. Instead betting will take place on iPhones and mobile apps. It’ll be amusing to watch politicians, sports officials, and commentators turn cheek on their long held beliefs. Most experts expect a majority of states to legalize sports betting in the next year or two. New Jersey should have its sports betting operation up and running in a matter of weeks. However, it’s important to keep in mind that interstate sport gambling still remains illegal under the Federal Wire Act.
The American Gaming Association predicted that the outcome of this ruling would result in increased gaming revenue without endangering the integrity of the sports game. In a Press Release, the group stated, “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, sports bodies, broadcasters and many others.”
This ruling will impact sports as well. Andrew Brandt, director of sports law at Villanova University, pointed out an interesting fact
on NPR. Research shows an average NFL fan watches around 15 to 16 games per year, however a NFL fan that participates in sports book wagering watches around 45 to 50 games per year. This can generate a whole new source of potential income for many people involved in this industry. It’ll be interesting to see how sports’ betting is integrated into the American culture and how it will evolve in the future. But for now, it’s time for a new era.