Supreme Court overturns sports betting ban

Sportsbooks in New Jersey are open for business after the Supreme Court overturned an existing decision that clears states to regulate sports gambling in landmark decision handed down Monday.

Only Nevada was exempt from the 1992 federal gambling law — the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act — prohibiting any state from the ability to “sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize by law” sports wagering.

The American Gaming Association estimated that Americans illegally wager about $150 billion annually.

“The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make. Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own. Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the court.

New Jersey, which is already set up for single-game betting at some facilities while awaiting legalization, including Monmouth Park racetrack and numerous casinos, had lost multiple decisions before the case made it to the Supreme Court.

Congressman Frank Pallone called on congress to support the decision immediately.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling is a win for New Jersey and the rest of the country,” Pallone said Monday. “PASPA was clearly unconstitutional and the ban on sports betting has now rightfully been rejected by the Court. … Now that the Supreme Court has struck down this unlawful and confusing law, it is time for Congress to move the GAME Act forward to ensure that consumer protections are in place in any state that decides to implement sports betting.”

Massachusetts-based DraftKings, a daily fantasy sports provider, has plans to expand the business to offer sports wagers.

“Our mission has always been to bring fans closer to the sports they love and now, thanks to the wisdom of the Supreme Court, DraftKings will be able to harness our proven technology to provide our customers with innovative online sports betting products,” CEO Jason Robins said in a statement on Monday.

The NBA has taken a progressive view on gambling, investing in sports data and gambling integrity services company Sportradar.

Commissioner Adam Silver has teamed with Major League Baseball in lobbying individual states for what would be viewed as an “integrity fee” owed the sports leagues. Whether the Supreme Court decision Monday creates or reduces the need for an agreement with pro sports leagues is open for debate.

“I would only say from the NBA’s standpoint we will spend this year roughly $7.5 billion creating this content, creating these games,” Silver said during the All-Star break. “Those are total expenses for the season. So this notion that as the intellectual property creators that we should receive a 1 percent fee seems very fair to me.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said during Super Bowl pregame in February that the NFL would be focused on integrity. The league has a long-standing adversarial take on sports betting and was part of a lawsuit against New Jersey to block Monday’s decision.

“The Supreme Court is considering changes potentially in laws with respect to gambling across our country,” Goodell said. “We’re going to be prepared as a league to address those, no matter how the Supreme Court comes out, but also how things continue to evolve. I think we have, but we’re going to protect the integrity of the game, I assure you of that.”

In a statement Monday the NCAA implied it would recognize the decision on PASPA.

“Today, the United States Supreme Court issued a clear decision that PAPSA is unconstitutional, reversing the lower court that held otherwise. While we are still reviewing the decision to understand the overall implications to college sports, we will adjust sports wagering and championship policies to align with the direction from the court.”

MLB called for federal legislation to backstop any state gambling initiatives cleared following the Supreme Court ruling.

“Today’s decision by the United States Supreme Court will have profound effects on Major League Baseball,” a statement from the league read. “As each state considers whether to allow sports betting, we will continue to seek the proper protections for our sport, in partnership with other professional sports. Our most important priority is protecting the integrity of our games. We will continue to support legislation that creates air-tight coordination and partnerships between the state, the casino operators and the governing bodies in sports toward that goal.”

–Field Level Media

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