The United States Supreme Court ruled Monday that states can legalise sports betting, upholding the legality of a 2014 New Jersey law permitting sports betting at casinos and racetracks in the state, and setting off a rush by businesses and states to cash in on a multi-billion dollar jackpot.
The Court’s decision voided the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in its entirety, a federal law which was passed in 1992 that prohibited sports betting in many U.S. states. The Act stopped new states from offering sports betting, thus preventing the spread of sports betting across the country.
Nevada, which had legalised sports betting in 1949, was the only state where sports betting was allowed to continue. Oregon, Delaware and Montana were eventually grandfathered in. The Supreme Court’s ruling will now break up the monopoly on the practice.
In a ruling which sent shares in gaming companies and casinos soaring, the Supreme Court justices struck down the entire federal law on a 6-3 vote, with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer dissenting.
The Supreme Court agreed with New Jersey’s argument that the federal law infringed upon state sovereignty as laid out in the U.S. Constitution by compelling states not to license or regulate sports betting.
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion, in which he stated:
“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.”
Some states see sports betting, like lotteries, as a potentially lucrative source of tax revenue. While Nevada’s Gaming Control board reported $4.8 billion in sports bets last year, the American Gaming Association estimates there is currently a $150 billion-a-year illegal sports-betting market.
Geoff Freeman, president of the American Gaming Association, said his group will work with states, sports leagues and law enforcement “to create a new regulatory environment that capitalizes on this opportunity to engage fans and boost local economies.”