Sports betting ban in the US repealed by Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court ruled on Monday that a federal ban on sports betting is unconstitutional, giving states permission to offer legal, regulated sports betting.

US Supreme Court

The Supreme Court overruled the ban by six votes to three. © Big Think.

The court overturned the ban on the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which barred betting on sports in almost all states, by 6-3.

Yesterday’s judgement is unprecedented and could create the world’s newest largest regulated sports betting market. The burden of regulation will be on each individual state.

The ruling comes as the result of a case issued by the state of New Jersey, which has long fought for the legalisation of sports betting in the US.

In its ruling, the court said:

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, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court

A hard-earned victory for New Jersey

Governor Christie of New Jersey placed challenging the ban at the top of his agenda when elected in 2010. After slow progress, Christie drafted a draft sports betting bill for the state in 2014 which attempted to avoid falling foul of PASPA by offering sports betting within the state in licensed and regulated outlets.

A review of PASPA was always the end goal and after many denials Christie pushed for a Supreme Court review in 2016.

New Jersey had the support of more than half of US states, who stated during the process than they will offer regulated sports betting should the PASPA ruling be lifted.

Not all had supported a lifting of the ban however. All of the major US professional sports leagues, the NCAA, NBA, NFL, and Major League Baseball, argued that legalised sports betting could affect the integrity of their leagues.

A great day for bookmakers

Operators will be scrambling into action at the news, but most will have already have been preparing for this day for some time. Analysts estimate that the US market could be worth over $7bn annually.

William Hill, who already has a large presence, strong brand and good finances in the US will be among the best prepared.

Joe Usher, CEO of William Hill US, said:

We’ve been working towards this day for a long time and take great satisfaction in the Supreme Court’s decision… We’re going to get Monmouth Park open for business as soon as responsibly possible.Joe Usher, CEO William Hill US

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