On Monday, the United States Supreme Court struck down a federal law which outlawed sports gambling. As Fox News reports, the 6 to 3 vote, which effectively eliminates the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.
Striking down the anti-gambling law is expected to lead to the legalization of state-regulated sports gambling in more than a dozen states.
The decision however did not make sports gambling legal – or rule necessarily that gambling was illegal – but that the current law on the books was not consistent with the constitution.
The decision marked a defeat for the federal government and sports organizations who fought to uphold the current ban in most states.
The 1992 law had barred gambling on football, basketball, baseball and other sports with some exceptions, like allowing people to wager on a single game only in Nevada. The Supreme Court ruling now gives states the go-ahead to legalize sports betting if they want.
“The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make,” the opinion by Justice Samuel Alito said.
“Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own. Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not,” the ruling said.
According to the report, an upwards of 32 states could now seek to regulate sports gambling.
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.
More than a dozen states had supported New Jersey, which argued that Congress exceeded its authority when it passed the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, 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.
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.
The American Gaming Association estimates that Americans illegally wager about $150 billion on sports each year.
The case before the Supreme Court was led by New Jersey. The state has fought for years to legalize sports betting and first challenged the 1992 federal law in 2012 when they passed a law which directly countered it. According to the Fox News report, “the four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA sued, and the state lost in court.”
In the state’s second attempt, in 2014, New Jersey repealed laws already on the books which outlawed sports gambling. “It argued taking its laws off the books was different from authorizing sports gambling. The state lost again and then took the case to the Supreme Court,” Fox News reports.
The recent decision will likely pave the way for other states to pursue their own forms of regulated sports gambling or for Congress to revisit the issue.