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Supreme Court Finds Sports Betting Lawful
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Chris Christie. Photo courtesy of Vanity Fair.

Summary: The Supreme Court ruled that states can allow sports gambling. 

Will states begin allowing legalized sports gambling soon? You betcha!


On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that prohibiting sports betting outside of Nevada was unconstitutional. This applies to professional and college sports. According to USA Today, “The ruling could set the stage for other states to expand legalized gambling as a source of government revenue.”

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the court’s opinion, which was overwhelmingly in favor of removing the gambling restriction calledthe Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. It was passed in 1992 with the intention of preserving the integrity of sports.

“Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own,” Alito said. “Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decided whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not.”

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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Sonia Sotomayor voted to uphold PAPSA, which was challenged by former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Christie and other proponents wanted to remove the 1992 law so that his state’s racetracks and casinos could bring in more money.

In his lawsuit, Christie said that the 1992 law violated the 10th Amendment which protects states rights. Before Monday’s decision, only Nevada was allowed to have sports betting, and that was because they had enacted a law before PAPSA was passed.

Ginsburg and Sotomayor’s dissension was in line with the National Collegiate Athletic Association and four major professional sports leagues that had successfully stopped New Jersey in lower courts.

USA Today noted that the 1992 law did not actually curb sports betting but instead, pushed it underground. “What has made the law anachronistic is the advent and rapid growth of Internet gambling. Rather than stopping sports betting, it helped push more of it underground, creating a $150 billion annual industry. That dwarfs the $5 billion bet in Nevada, the lone state with a legal sports book that preceded the federal law,” USA Today said.

Geoff Freeman, the president of the American Gaming Association, said that Monday’s decision would allow regulated gambling and was a victory for Americans who wanted to bet on sports teams.

“Today’s decision is a victory for the millions of Americans who seek to bet on sports in a safe and regulated manner,” Freeman said to USA Today. “Today’s ruling makes it possible for states and sovereign tribal nations to give Americans what they want: an open, transparent, and responsible market for sports betting.”

States that will likely allow sports betting. Graphic courtesy of AP.

What do you think of Monday’s decision? Let us know in the comments below.


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