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Supreme Court Allows States To Legalize Sports Betting

Today, the United States Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of New Jersey that a federal ban on sports gambling is unconstitutional, paving the way for states to legalize betting on sports. It’s a decision that goes against what the NCAA and major professional sports leagues want, but they will have to deal with the repercussions of the Court’s decision.


The entire Supreme Court ruling, including the Opinion and the Dissent (which is the argument against striking the federal ban), can be read here.


To summarize, major sports leagues and the NCAA advocated against the legalization of sports gambling to protect the integrity of the game. In 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was passed, which mostly outlawed sports betting in the United States. However, there were exceptions where betting was allowed, like in Oregon, Montana, Delaware, and Nevada.


Now that PASPA is essentially overturned, all states will have the right to decide what they want to do about sports betting. Some states have already had potential legalization in mind and have already gotten things rolling in the event of a ruling in favor of New Jersey, while other states still might not have any interest in legalizing sports betting.


The bottom line is sports betting is now up to the states, which has ramifications for major sports leagues that play games throughout the country.


Now, a few more implications and takeaways from New Jersey’s big win.


-This ruling by the Supreme Court hurts the underground betting world in the U.S., as billions of dollars per year were made on illegal sports gambling. So while organized crime groups are certainly unhappy with the Court’s decision, it’s designed to help make sports betting safer for consumers.


-The leagues were opposed to sports betting, and they could maybe look to push Congress for new laws or regulation, but they might need to just get on board at this point. With billions of dollars being made each year, getting in on a part of the action might not be too bad.


-This will open up conspiracy theorists for even more scrutiny of close professional sports games. Any time an official makes a bad call or a player makes a bad play, there will be people screaming that the game is rigged and that Vegas is deciding the outcomes. It’s always been the case, but it might become louder and more frequent now.


-Eventually (perhaps soon), people will likely be able to place prop bets right at the stadium while at the game. For example, there might be a smart phone app, which allows you to place bets in real time; like if the Cowboys offense takes the field and you want to bet they score three points (i.e. a field goal) on the drive.


-Many people won’t be impacted by this decision, as they were already able to play in fantasy leagues with their friends or in daily fantasy leagues for money.


-Similar to when alcohol was outlawed 1920, many people were still doing it anyway. Sports gambling is a similar case, as now people (in the states that legalize it) will be able to legally gamble on sports. In the future, gambling will probably be as regular as drinking—for better or worse.


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