States given green light to legalize sports gambling by Supreme Court

UPDATE 2 — 6/1, 1:11 p.m. EDT: The state of Delaware announced Thursday it will become the first to open sports betting parlors at three of its casinos on Tuesday, June 5.

Wagers on professional and collegiate basketball, baseball, football, hockey, soccer, golf and auto racing events will be permitted as long as the venue is out-of-state. 

The next state to enact legalized gambling on sporting events is expected to be New Jersey, which hopes to be open for business by July, followed by Pennsylvania, Mississippi and West Virginia.  


UPDATE — 3:27 p.m. EDT: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said Monday he will introduce legislation to “establish fundamental standards” for legalized sports gambling at the state-level in the name of athletic “integrity”.

Hatch, one of PASPA’s co-sponsors in 1992, noted “the rapid rise of the Internet means that sports betting across state lines is now just a click away. We cannot allow this practice to proliferate amid uneven enforcement and a patchwork race to the regulatory bottom.”


The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struck down a 1992 federal law that prohibited states from sanctioning sports betting within its borders, effectively allowing the practice at the discretion of individual jurisdictions.

The case, Murphy v. NCAA, was brought on appeal by the state of New Jersey after voters there approved a ballot initiative which allowed the legislature to legalize gambling on sporting events at casinos and horse tracks.  Following the law’s passage in 2012, all four major sports leagues sued the state on the grounds it violated the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

After numerous court actions, including a ruling against the state by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, the High Court issued a 6–3 decision deeming PASPA in violation of the Constitution’s 10th Amendment.

Under PASPA, only Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana were allowed to continue to legally sanction sports gambling, while such “schemes” were prohibited in 46 other states under the threat of civil action.

“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,” Gov. Phil Murphy said following announcement of the decision. “I look forward to working with the Legislature to enact a law authorizing and regulating sports betting in the very near future.”

According to ESPN, other states which plan to enact legalized sports betting in the near-future in order to capitalize on an industry that rakes in hundreds of billions per year nationally include, New York, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and West Virginia.

Other major countries that currently allow wagering on athletics are some of America’s strongest allies: U.K., France, Canada and Australia.

Responding to the news, Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association issued statements reiterating their commitment to the integrity of their respective games.

“We remain in favor of a federal framework that would provide a uniform approach to sports gambling in states that choose to permit it, but we will remain active in ongoing discussions with state legislatures,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said.

Barring any further federal action by Congress, expect sports books to legally open in the Garden State by the end of May.


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