In a 6-3 decision, the US Supreme Court has overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) and opened the gates for regulated sports betting in the United States. The ruling also puts aside decades of wrong-headed, puritanical thought that pushed a huge sector of the gaming industry into the arms of the black market.
At its core, Murphy vs. National College Athletic Association (NCAA) was all about states’ rights, specifically the right to offer regulated sports betting. Under the terms of PASPA, states were forbidden from offering sports betting in any form that wasn’t legal in 1992. That’s why Nevada casinos have sportsbooks and Atlantic City casinos don’t.
Back in 2007, New Jersey voters decided to challenge that ruling in an attempt to breathe life into the struggling casinos in Atlantic City. In legal terms, New Jersey’s case wasn’t a blanket attempt to legalize sports betting, but rather an attempt to let the states decide for themselves.
In the majority ruling, the Supreme Court Justices said that PASPA was not valid because it imposed a legal burden on the States that Congress had not approved. That is to say, Congress has never ruled that sports betting is illegal. What PASPA did was freeze the gaming industry in place, without allowing states the opportunity to change their positions on regulated sports betting.
For the Supreme Court, that was enough. Speaking for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito said, “Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own.”
News of the Supreme Court’s decision was greeted enthusiastically by the gaming industry with American Gaming Association President Geoff Freeman saying, “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, sporting bodies, broadcasters and many others.”
So what’s next for sports betting in America? We’ll take a look at the issues surrounding the roll out of regulated sports betting in the United States tomorrow.
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