American states will now be able to legalise sports betting, ending Nevada's long-time monopoly on the lucrative market.
For the last quarter of a century, the only state in the US where a punter could have a bet on a single sports fixture was Nevada — the home of the nation’s gambling mecca, Las Vegas.
Montana, Oregon and Delaware were also exempted on certain bet types having approved the sports wagering prior to the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) taking effect.
But on Monday, the US Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favour of striking down PASPA.
The ruling opens the door for other individual states to legalise betting on American football, basketball, baseball and other sports.
Some of the US’ most influential governing bodies had opposed the move, including the big four — NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) also objected on the grounds that it would threaten the “integrity of athletic competition”.
In response, Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the court: “The legalisation 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. Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the constitution. Paspa is not.”
New Jersey finally gets ruling on sports betting
New Jersey has fought for the removal of PASPA since citizens voted to legalise sports betting at casinos and racetracks in 2011.
The aim was to give a much-needed shot in the arm to the Atlantic City casinos and the state’s racetracks, which had been struggling to stay afloat.
And despite being backed by at least a dozen states, it was blocked by the four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA, who successfully sued the state.
In 2014, New Jersey was again denied after trying a different tack. But the Supreme Court has finally given the judgment the state has spent millions of dollars in legal fees pursuing.
Thrilled former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who spearheaded the change to the legislation, says it is long overdue.
“A great day for the rights of states and their people to make their own decisions,” Christie tweeted on Monday.
“New Jersey citizens wanted sports gambling and the federal Gov’t had no right to tell them no. The Supreme Court agrees with us today. I am proud to have fought for the rights of the people of NJ.”
A great day for the rights of states and their people to make their own decisions. New Jersey citizens wanted sports gambling and the federal Gov't had no right to tell them no. The Supreme Court agrees with us today. I am proud to have fought for the rights of the people of NJ.
— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) May 14, 2018
As a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, shares in UK-based bookmakers spiked significantly.
Paddy Power Betfair’s shares jumped 10.5%, 888 Holdings shot up 14%, William Hill’s price rose 9.4%, and GVC Holdings gained 6%.
Churchill Downs, which owns horse race tracks and casinos in the US, also improved by 5.73%.
NBA and Major League demand royalties
Since the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case last June, the NBA and MLB (in particular) have looked to hedge their bets, realising there is good money to be made from sports gambling.
They began lobbying for what was later branded an “integrity fee”.
In January, Dan Spillane, NBA vice president, appeared before the New York state legislature to suggest leagues receive a 1% cut from all sports wagers if it were to be legalised.
The reason being, they would need compensation for having to institute integrity services.
He and MLB vice president, Bryan Seeley, have been pitching to lawmakers all over the country.
“It is reasonable for those who reap the profits to compensate the sports league in recognition of the billions of dollars the leagues invest to create a compelling product,” Seeley told Kansas lawmakers in March.
“As well as the risk to reputation and integrity that accompanies sports betting.”
More recently, the executives have moved away from demanding an integrity fee, to suggesting their governing bodies deserve royalties for providing the products that gamblers can wager on.