US states race to legalize sports betting
In a country where sports are incredibly popular, it has recently come to question why sports betting isn’t legal in the United States.
In 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, also known as PASPA, was passed by Congress which outlawed the operation or licensing of sports betting or gambling on professional or collegiate sports in all states except Nevada.
During the last 26 years the betting industry in the US thrived underground making an estimated $150bn each year.
Since 2011, New Jersey has been trying to legalize sports betting at the state’s casinos and racetracks, and finally, in 2017 the Supreme Court authorized the state’s hearing.
It was on 14 May 2018 that the Supreme Court overturned PASPA saying: "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."
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy celebrated the decision, which began with a lawsuit brought by former-Gov. Chris Christie. ”I am thrilled to see the Supreme Court finally side with New Jersey and strike down the arbitrary ban on sports betting imposed by Congress decades ago,” Murphy said at the time the news broke. “Today’s ruling will finally allow for authorised facilities in New Jersey to take the same bets that are legal in other states in our country.”
Gov. Chris Christie added: “A great day for the rights of states and their people to make their own decisions. New Jersey citizens wanted sports gambling and the Federal Government had no right to tell them no. The Supreme Court agrees with us today. I am proud to have fought for the rights of the people of NJ.”
Following the ruling, Delaware became the first state, other than Nevada, to legalize sports betting. New Jersey soon followed when Murphy signed a bill on Monday 11 June. In a statement he said: “We’re finally making the dream of legalized sports betting a reality for New Jersey. It means that our casinos in Atlantic City and our racetracks throughout our state can attract new business and new fans, boosting their own long-term financial prospects. This is the right move for New Jersey and it will strengthen our economy.”
It is expected for Pennsylvania to be the next state in line to legalize sports wagering, but given the recent turn of events with Delaware and New Jersey, who knows which state is going all in next.