May 17, 2018

Who Opposes Sports Betting?

Matthew D. Mitchell Director of the Equity Initiative

This week the Supreme Court ruled in favor of an issue that seems to be nearing a tipping point in terms of public acceptance: sports betting. But will it be enough to overcome staunch opposition from those who stand to lose the most? Time will tell.

Back in 2011, New Jersey voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to their state constitution to allow sports betting in the Garden State and the following year, then-Gov. Chris Christie signed a law permitting the practice. In doing so, he challenged anyone to "try to stop us."

The federal government and professional sports leagues tried to stop him.

They cited a 1992 federal statute, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which made it illegal for states other than Nevada to sponsor or permit sports betting. But in a 7-2 Supreme Court decision, the court just struck down PASPA, ruling that it had unconstitutionally commandeered the state legislatures. States may now permit sports betting.

According to one industry report, New Jersey, Delaware, New York, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania are all poised to legalize sports betting now that the federal government will no longer stand in the way. Of these states, Pennsylvania and New Jersey plan to permit online sports betting. Given the staggering market potential, other states may soon follow.

Read more: Sports Wagering Has an Unlikely Foe

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