by Loren G. Edelstein | May 14, 2018
The U.S. Supreme Court today struck down a federal law that bans gambling on sporting events, paving the way for legalized sports betting in all 50 states. Justices ruled that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which bars state-authorized sports gambling, is unconstitutional, according to the Associated Press and other published reports.
 
PASPA, also known as the Bradley Act after the law's main sponsor, former Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey, was intended to stop the spread of sports betting in the United States. The law allowed exceptions for Nevada, Montana, Oregon and Delaware -- states that had approved some form of sports wagering.  
 
The court's decision stemmed from a case from New Jersey, which has fought for years to legalize gambling on sports at casinos and racetracks in the state. More than a dozen states have declared their support of New Jersey's position.
 
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 National Basketball Association, National Football League, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball argued that New Jersey's gambling expansion would hurt the integrity of their games. Outside of court, however, officials of all but the NFL have shown some degree of willingness to consider legalized sports gambling.
 
The American Gaming Association, which applauded the ruling, estimates that Americans illegally wager about $150 billion on sports each year.
 
"Today's decision is a victory for the millions of Americans who seek to bet on sports in a safe and regulated manner," said Geoff Freeman, AGA president and CEO, in a statement following the decision. "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."
 
Freeman added, "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."
 
As many as 20 states are expected to move quickly to establish regulated sports betting as a means to grow their coffers through associated tax dollars.