The future of sports betting in the United States has never looked rosier than the last few months, and we now know when the next big step in a positive direction may be taken. After years of working through the labyrinthine American legal system, officials from the state of New Jersey will finally get their case for legalization in front of the highest court in the land, the U.S. Supreme Court, on December 4!
The hearing will focus on whether or not the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, known as PASPA, is unconstitutional in its federal prohibition of sports betting. PASPA was passed in 1992 and made sports betting illegal in most states, with exceptions being made for Nevada, Oregon, Delaware, and Montana. Additionally, jai alai, pari-mutuel horse racing, and dog racing are also exempt from the act.
At the time the law was passed, the majority of Americans were in favor of it, while in the 25 years since the national attitude has drastically shifted towards legalizing sports wagering. A recent poll conducted by the Washington Post and UMass-Lowell shows that 55% of Americans support legalizing sports betting, and only 33% fully disapprove.
That's the atmosphere New Jersey’s appeal will be heard. State legislators have been endeavoring to legalize sports gambling since 2009 when a state senator filed a lawsuit arguing PASPA is unconstitutional. In 2011 citizens voted in favor of a state constitutional amendment to legalize sports wagering.
The amendment-push eventually lead to the state's Sports Wagering Act of 2012. Shortly after that act was passed, the NFL, NHL, MLB, and the NCAA filed their own suit seeking to prevent it from going in to effect, a case which the leagues won. A similar victory was won by the leagues in 2016.
Still, New Jersey has never given up, constantly moving forward with appeals and legal challenges to PASPA, and it looks like they are finally in a position to prevail before the top legal authority in the land. If they come out on top, a new market with an estimated value of $6 billion would be accessible to New Jersey and its gaming operators.
Those same estimates say the overall market value could balloon to almost $16 billion if all 50 states follow New Jersey’s lead. This past August all legal casino gambling in America - not just sports wagering - generated $3.4 billion, so the introduction of such a large and lucrative market could be a significant boon to America’s gambling industry.
Legalizing sports wagering has the potential to bring the estimated $60 billion Americans already wager on sports through non-US sites and bookmakers into the light, making it a safer and more regulated industry that is also subject to taxation. Anticipation is high for the upcoming hearing, and not just in New Jersey.
Twenty other states have filed briefs supporting Jersey’s crusade, with a few such as Maryland going so far as to put forth legislation that would quickly legalize sports wagering in their states if New Jersey emerges victorious. Industry experts predict that around 15 states would offer sports wagering to citizens within two years of such a decision, with nearly 20 more joining within five years.
Two years after that they expect nearly every state in the country would feature some form of legalized sports betting. With the shift in the public attitude and the obvious interest from a huge number of states, there is more support than ever to fully legalize and regulate sports betting the United States.
As a result, come December 4th, there will be many, many interested parties paying attention to the Supreme Court and their decision. Keep checking back here with Gambling.com's News for all the latest developments on this breaking story. We will be consistently pushing updates on the topic as the hearing approaches!
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