In appealing the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Professional and Amateur Sports Participation Act (PASPA), New Jersey has not only given itself the possibility of legalising sports betting in the Garden State, it has also opened a window of opportunity for other states in the US.
PASPA is, essentially, the only thing preventing sports betting – both online and in bricks and mortar locations – from becoming legal in New Jersey and elsewhere. Governor Chris Christie’s fight to contest the ‘constitutional validity’ of the regulation could prove to be a key landmark moment in the casino industry.
And the efforts have not gone unnoticed. Now lawmakers in New York are reportedly looking to create their own state-wide sports betting hub, and are keeping a close eye on the Supreme Court bill.
Decision-makers in New York will attempt to accelerate any pending ruling by bypassing the traditional review and amendment stage, which typically takes up to two years to be given the green light (or otherwise).
New Jersey has long been at the forefront of the movement to legalise online gambling and sports betting, and this latest attempt appears to be its strongest effort so far. A previous betting bill passed through state legislature as recently as 2016, but has since been the subject of a further lawsuit brought by anti-gambling organisations to the Attorney General’s office.
The fallout continues to rumble on to this day. But a decision appears imminent given that the Supreme Court will open its doors to both parties in December. New Jersey representatives will aim to have a ruling by the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals – which states that its 2014 statute permitting sports betting at licensed premises was contrary to the terms of PASPA – overturned.
Many other state governors watch on with interest. New York decision-makers are on of a list of states, which also features the likes of California, South Carolina, Mississippi and Pennsylvania, to table legislation that would ultimately legalise sports betting within their borders should the federal ban be overturned in the court of appeal.
Of course, any subsequent bill arising from the PASPA ruling being overturned will have to be approved in successive legislative sessions, and there is likely to be counter-argument put forward by anti-gambling lobbyists – that’s before it gets put in front of the voters. As such, sports betting may not be approved anywhere outside of Nevada until 2019 at the earliest.
Sports betting has not been looked upon favourably by the courts in the United States, and their view has largely been shared by the American people up until this point. In 1993 a poll conducted by the Washington Post, in conjunction with the University of Massachusetts, found that more than half of the people surveyed were in favour of a continued ban on sports betting in the country.
However, a revised version of the poll carried out by the same organisations in 2017 revealed a change in perception. The respondents to this poll were asked whether they supported the legalisation of sports betting, and some 55% said they would indeed be in favour of the PASPA act being overturned.
There has been a marked shift in perception about sports betting in the US, with a modern generation well used to gambling – Las Vegas remains as popular today with American visitors as it does with those from overseas. The New Jersey case is significant, with some 32 states indicating they would allow sports betting to be carried out online and in licensed sports bars within their borders.
There are millions of potential customers waiting for the verdict, with the poll results suggesting that more than half would have a flutter should the prohibition be lifted. It has been estimated that the betting industry in the US would be the largest in the world, raking in as much as $12.4 billion in revenue a year if legalised. The scope in New York, and beyond, is huge!