Sports Betting Case Before the Supreme Court Will Impact Entire Gaming Industry

On Monday, Dec. 4th, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case which could decide whether the law which currently bans sports betting in all but four states is unconstitutional. The Court’s decision is expected to have far reaching effects on not just sports betting but on the gaming industry in general.

In Christie v. NCAA, the state of New Jersey originally passed a law which allowed sports betting in regulated casinos and race tracks. Associations like the NCAA protested under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), claiming that betting has a negative impact on communities and that the federal government was within its rights to shut down the practice, overriding the wishes of New Jersey voters.

A positive domino effect is expected if the Court strikes down PASPA. Sports betting and other entertainment like online gaming could soon be permitted across the country.  With states like Illinois, Michigan and New York considering the legalization of online gaming in the near future, a pro-business decision by the Supreme Court is likely to influence legislators across the U.S. to encourage this industry.

Because the outcome will significantly impact our members, iDEA has submitted a “friend of the court” or amicus brief in this case. We believe that outlawing sports betting in 46 states violates some of our country’s most basic principles, including the right of each state to decide for themselves how to regulate and grow their own economies.

Delaware, Nevada, Oregon and Montana are the four states who are exempt from PASPA. These states reap economic benefits from sports betting. Opponents to the law question this disparity: why should these states and not others be entitled to the jobs and tax revenue generated by this form of entertainment? Basic fairness demands that all states seeking to increase their revenue and employment opportunities be free to welcome a rationally regulated gaming industry.

Supporters of the law claim that PASPA “safeguards the integrity of professional sports,” and protects youth from the dangers of gambling, but these goals are not even remotely achieved by the ban.  Actually, research shows that technology and rational regulation are the most effective ways to curb the negative effects of gambling.

The current law only succeeds in driving the popular pastime of sports betting offshore to places like Costa Rica, where Americans currently place millions of dollars of bets, or underground. Instead of driving this business away from our country, we should be welcoming it.