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Federal Sports Betting Ban Overturned By Supreme Court; Online Poker To Benefit

Court Nixes Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992


The highest court in the land says sports betting can be legalized nationwide.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, a law that banned traditional sports betting outside of Nevada. Now all 50 states can pursue sports betting within their respective borders if they want it. Around 40 states in the country have casinos.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments for and against PASPA late last year.

The efforts to overturn the law were led by New Jersey, home to struggling Atlantic City. They were opposed by the sports leagues. New Jersey officials want sports betting for Atlantic City casinos. Like Nevada, New Jersey had a chance to be grandfathered in under PASPA, but it didn’t do so at the time.

The decision by the Justices was applauded by the U.S. commercial casino industry.

“Today’s decision is a victory for the millions of Americans who seek to bet on sports in a safe and regulated manner," said American Gaming Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman.

“According to a Washington Post survey,” the lobbying group continued, “a solid 55 percent of Americans believe it’s time to end the federal ban on sports betting. 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.”

According to Freeman, the upcoming sports betting market needs “smart, efficient regulation.”

“This new market will protect consumers, preserve the integrity of the games we love, empower law enforcement to fight illegal gambling, and generate new revenue for states, sporting bodies, broadcasters and many others. The AGA stands ready to work with all stakeholders—states, tribes, sports leagues, and law enforcement—to create a new regulatory environment that capitalizes on this opportunity to engage fans and boost local economies.”

The AGA estimates that Americans bet about $150 billion illegally each year on sports.

So far, 18 states have introduced legislation to legalize sports betting, with more states expected to follow. New Jersey is expected to be the first to launch sports books.

The defeat of PASPA will likely be a big win for online poker. How? Because sports betting, at least in New Jersey and other tech savvy states, will be conducted both in the brick-and-mortar setting as well as over the internet. PASPA’s demise means a boon for online casinos.

“If we win sports wagering, online gaming will go to every state that adopts sports betting,” David Rebuck, director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, told the Associated Press last year. “As soon as sports wagering is legalized, online gambling will follow right behind it.”

It’s a great time to be a poker player in America. Earlier this month, Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey joined forces for online poker. Last fall, Pennsylvania legalized online casinos, which could launch later this year. Several other states are considering online poker in 2018.