Supreme Court Makes Sports Betting a Possibility Nationwide
Many states have hoped their cut of legalized sports gambling could help solve budget problems. Stock prices for casino operators and equipment makers surged after the ruling was announced.
The Supreme Court has struck down a federal law that bars gambling on football, basketball, baseball and other sports in most states, giving states the go-ahead to legalize betting on sports.
The Supreme Court on Monday struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. The 1992 law barred state-authorized sports gambling with some exceptions. It made Nevada the only state where a person could wager on the results of a single game.
One research firm estimated before the ruling that if the Supreme Court were to strike down the law, 32 states would likely offer sports betting within five years.
A gambling market researcher says the market for legal sports betting could be more than $57 billion nationwide. Analyst David Katz of the Jefferies firm in New York is projecting modest near-term positive effects on the gambling industry following Monday's Supreme Court ruling. The analysis says regional casino operators Penn National Gaming and Caesars Entertainment could be possible big winners.
The court's decision came in a case from New Jersey, which has fought for years to legalize gambling on sports at casinos and racetracks in the state.
Former Governor Chris Christie tweeted Monday that "New Jersey citizens wanted sports gambling and the federal Gov't had no right to tell them no."
It's possible that the first to market with sports betting in New Jersey will be a racetrack at the Jersey shore. Monmouth Park has already set up a sports book operation and has previously estimated it could take bets within two weeks of a favorable Supreme Court ruling.
Tony Rodio, president of Tropicana Entertainment, said his Atlantic City casino will "absolutely" offer sports betting once it can get it up and running. "It's been a long time coming," he said.
More than a dozen states had supported New Jersey, which argued that Congress exceeded its authority when it passed the law barring states from authorizing sports betting. New Jersey said the Constitution allows Congress to pass laws barring wagering on sports, but Congress can't require states to keep sports gambling prohibitions in place.
State lawmakers and tribes who run California casinos say voters would have to change the state's Constitution before legal sports betting could come to the nation's most populous state.
Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray of Merced immediately said he will try to move forward with a constitutional amendment allowing sports gambling and deputizing the Legislature to regulate the wagering. But lawmakers face a late June deadline to put it on the November ballot, and lobbyists say that's unlikely. It would take a two-thirds vote, and tribes would likely vie with card rooms, horse tracks and online operations for the chance to run the sports book.
All four major U.S. professional sports leagues, the NCAA and the federal government had urged the court to uphold the federal law. In court, the NBA, NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball had argued that New Jersey's gambling expansion would hurt the integrity of their games. Outside court, however, leaders of all but the NFL have shown varying degrees of openness to legalized sports gambling.
On Monday, Major League Baseball issued a statement saying the Supreme Court ruling would have “profound effects” on the league and that it would “continue to seek the proper protections for our sport.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver says the pro basketball league remains favor “of a federal framework that would provide a uniform approach to sports gambling in sates that choose to permit it.”
Silver said the league would "remain active" in ongoing discussions with state legislatures in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling. Silver added that "regardless of the particulars of any future sports betting law, the integrity of our game remains our highest priority."
The PGA Tour has restated its support of sports gambling following a Supreme Court ruling that overturned a federal law barring gambling in most states. The tour's position is similar to the NBA and Major League Baseball on gambling issues and it says it will continue to work with state legislators and regulators.
The tour last year established a program that requires players on all six circuits the PGA Tour manages to take part in an online tutorial that, among other things, illustrates some of the far-reaching effects of gambling.
"We believe that regulation is the most effective way of ensuring integrity in competition, protecting consumers, engaging fans and generating revenue for government, operators and leagues," the tour said in a statement.
The NFL plans to ask Congress "to enact a core regulatory framework for legalized sports betting" following the Supreme Court's ruling that would allow sports wagers in most states.
In its statement, the NFL noted that "Congress has long recognized the potential harms posed by sports betting to the integrity of sporting contests and the public confidence in these events."
The NFL also said it will work closely with teams to ensure that any state proposals "protect our fans and the integrity of our game."
The NCAA's chief legal officer says the organization is still reviewing the Supreme Court's decision but adds that it "will adjust sports wagering and championship policies to align with the direction from the court.
Donald Remy added that the NCAA is reviewing the decision "to understand the overall implications to college sports."
Daily fantasy sports operator DraftKings says it's poised to enter the sports-betting market after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal law that bans gambling on sports in most states.
The Boston-based company said Monday it had been preparing to launch a sports betting platform and apply for state operating licenses ever since the high court announced it would take up the case.
DraftKings chief executive Jason Robins says he expects several states to formally legalize sports betting before the start of the NFL season in September.
Robbins says DraftKings will push for regulations in those states that put "smart consumer protections" in place but aren't overly restrictive.
He says the company is well-positioned to enter the market because of its experience with offering daily fantasy sports games.
Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International welcomed an expansion of sports betting to other states, saying it offers a chance "to protect consumers and benefit the public by regulating and taxing sports betting."
The Nevada Gaming Board released this statement:
"The Nevada Gaming Control Board is the gold standard for legal, regulated sports betting. For decades, Nevada has been the only jurisdiction to offer a full range of sports betting options to the public. Nevada has proven that our model is not only successful, but stands the test of time. The Nevada Gaming Control Board supports today’s Supreme Court decision striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. In the coming months, as individual states decide whether or not to authorize legalized sports betting, and embark on establishing their own regulatory frameworks, the Nevada Gaming Control Board looks forward to acting as a resource and sharing our model with other jurisdictions."
CEO of William Hill US, Joe Asher, released this statement:
“We are excited, not just for ourselves, but for sports fans across the country. We’ve been working towards this day for a long time and take great satisfaction in the Supreme Court’s decision. Just as we have with our 100+ locations in Nevada, we look forward to working to make legal and regulated sports betting a big winner for consumers, state governments and all interested parties across the country. If we do this the right way, the only losers will be the illegal bookies that have been operating a massive black market. We’re going to get ready to open for business at Monmouth Park as soon as responsibly possible.”
American Gaming Association (AGA) President and CEO Geoff Freeman issued the following statement:
“Today’s decision is a victory for the millions of Americans who seek to bet on sports in a safe and regulated manner. According to a Washington Post survey, 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. Through 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.”
U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto released the following statement:
“In Nevada, we know better than anyone that sports betting that is regulated responsibly and efficiently can be a great source of revenue for boosting local economies. I look forward to working with industry leaders, lawmakers across the country and stakeholders to ensure that Nevada can maintain its leadership in the gaming industry and serve as a prime example to other states of the importance of building trust between industry and regulators to maintain safety and integrity for sports, consumers, and business in regulated sports betting.”
Representative Ruben J. Kihuen issued the statement:
“Today’s Supreme Court decision creates an opportunity for Nevada to showcase its preeminent and gold standard expertise in the sports betting industry. As other states attempt to capitalize on this ruling by implementing legalized sports betting, they will turn to Nevada for guidance and consultation. This opens the door for Nevada’s gaming industry to gain access to an estimated $150 billion in what was previously illegal sports betting.”
Representative Dina Titus released this statement:
“Today the Supreme Court has affirmed states’ rights when it comes to sports betting and opened the door for regulated sports betting in states across the country,” said Representative Titus. “A regulated market is always better than an unregulated one. As the representative for Las Vegas I have seen the success of the booming, regulated sports betting market in Nevada. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act has spawned a $150 billion annual illegal sports betting market that lacks consumer protections, is ripe for manipulation, fuels other illicit activities, and jeopardizes the integrity of sports leagues. In the coming weeks, I will be working with key stakeholders and industry experts to help educate my colleagues on what this means for their states and what they can learn from the gold standard set in Nevada. Allowing states and tribal sovereign governments to legalize sports betting could boost local economies, increase state revenues, and better protect both consumers and the industry, with Nevada showing the way. Las Vegas will still be the premier destination for sports betting, and Nevada can export its expertise. The Supreme Court today also sends a clear message to the Department of Justice that can be applied to other states’ rights issues like marijuana.”
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)