The United States Supreme Court on Monday voted 7-2 in favor of reversing the federal ban on sports betting (link via Robert Barnes of the Washington Post). States legislatures will now be free to set their own laws as pertaining to betting on professional and college sporting events. Full details of the ruling are available at the Supreme Court’s web site. From the ruling, as set forth by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.:
The legalization of sports gambling is a controversial subject. Supporters argue that legalization will produce revenue for the States and critically weaken illegal sports betting operations, which are often run by organized crime. Opponents contend that legalizing sports gambling will hook the young on gambling, encourage people of modest means to squander their savings and earnings, and corrupt professional and college sports.
The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make. Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own. Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. [The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act] is not. PASPA “regulate[s] state governments’ regulation” of their citizens, New York, 505 U. S., at 166. The Constitution gives Congress no such power.
Major League Baseball has issued the following statement on the matter:
“Today’s decision by the United States Supreme Court will have profound effects on Major League Baseball. As each state considers whether to allow sports betting, we will continue to seek the proper protections for our sport, in partnership with other professional sports. Our most important priority is protecting the integrity of our games. We will continue to support legislation that creates airtight coordination and partnerships between the state, the casino operators and the governing bodies in sports toward that goal.”
MLBPA executive director Tony Clark has also weighed in on the subject:
“The court’s decision is monumental, with far-reaching implications for baseball players and the game we love. From complex intellectual property questions to the most basic issues of player safety, the realities of widespread sports betting must be addressed urgently and thoughtfully to avoid putting our sport’s integrity at risk as states proceed with legalization.”
Of course, sports betting already exists in prominent fashion throughout the United States. Barnes’ piece above cites an estimated $150 billion annual valuation of the underground sports betting market in the U.S., which doesn’t include already legalized betting at sportsbooks in Nevada casinos. Certainly, though, widespread legalization of the matter creates many potential causes for concern and also for revenue; NBA commissioner Adam Silver, for instance, has openly expressed a desire to be compensated for the compensated for his league’s “additional costs involving integrity,” (via Michael Scotto of The Athletic). ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported earlier this year that the NBA could seek one percent of every bet legally placed on its outcomes.
The state of New Jersey had the support of 18 other states, per Barnes, in seeking to legalize betting in their state. Justine McDaniel of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets that the state of Pennsylvania, for instance, legalized sports betting last year in anticipation of federal legalization.