The news on Monday, May 14th was pretty groundbreaking.
Nothing is official yet on a state by state basis, but the Supreme Court dropped the gavel in a big way, finally giving full power to all 50 states to decide what to do with sports gambling legislation.
Gaming and Sports attorney Daniel Wallach broke the news via Twitter:
BREAKING: U.S. Supreme Court rules that federal ban on state-sanctioned sports betting is unconstitutional. Decides case in favor of New Jersey. Floodgates now officially open for other states to allow sports betting. #RIPPASPA
— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) May 14, 2018
To put it simply, for all intents and purposes, the federal government just gave the okay for you to bet on sports from the comfort of your home, a local sports betting enterprise or mobile phone.
Now your state just needs to make sure this thing goes all the way through.
To be clear, this still isn’t a done deal on the state level. However, the federal government will no longer stand in the way of gamblers and a litany of states should push forward in making sure they can benefit from everything the sports betting world has to offer.
Given the big gambling news, let’s look at a few things you may want to know:
Major Movement is Coming
In case you weren’t aware, this is all possible due to the PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) being ruled as unconstitutional.
The federal government finally lifted the bill’s ban, which regarded sports betting of any kind as illegal.
That led to illegal gambling accruing an estimated $150 billion on a yearly basis – money in which the government and IRS were missing out on.
It remains to be seen which states embrace this federal approval and actually legalize sports betting. It also is up in the air as to what types of guidelines and regulations will be enforced.
That being said, this is immediately huge news for New Jersey, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Some gambling spots in New Jersey could offer legal sports betting in as little as two weeks, but the aforementioned states with sports betting legislation already passed (pending the federal backing everyone just got) could still take a few months to fully process everything.
Still, the wheels aren’t just in motion. The Supreme Court gave the full go ahead and four states are already primed for full-blown legalized sports betting in the very near future.
The other 46 states are on the clock, and while it’s unlikely that every single state rules in favor to legalize sports betting, the gambling industry is finally headed in a very positive direction.
Not Everyone is Thrilled
Beyond just your regular nose raisers who don’t want sports betting to be legalized (or any gambling of any kind), there are still lawmakers and state officials who don’t care what the federal government says.
There will be states that fight hard to legalize sports betting and there are even sports leagues that remain defiant in the face of gambling being affiliated with their product.
The NBA and other leagues have actually been huge proponents for the legalization of sports gambling, but the NFL may be the loudest foe.
Roger Goodell has led the fight against legal sports betting on NFL games, citing a hit to the shield’s integrity and too many avenues for corruption.
Here is the league’s official stance:
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 14, 2018
On one hand, the league seems behind the times here, but on the other, I’m not so sure most sports bettors will hate the idea of making sure this thing is done the right way.
Nobody wants to feel cheated when gambling on sports, so if the NFL presses for strict regulations, that ultimately could make the entire process much safer and more enjoyable.
In the end, everyone that wants a piece of the sports betting pie will get their money and if they set it up correctly, it will be relatively safe. And those that want no part in it can just refrain from gambling, just like they always did.
While the NFL is seemingly dead set on making sure their sports betting product ends up being safe and doesn’t negatively impact pro football games, other leagues are way ahead of them.
The NBA and MLB specifically have gone out of their way to assist regulatory efforts for future sports betting.
A key part of this is making sure anyone closely affiliated with professional sports – namely coaches, players, and referees – would not be permitted to benefit from legalized sports betting.
That should probably go without saying, while these efforts would also seek out attempts at manipulation and corruption.
Exactly what these measures and regulations end up being remains to be determined, but gamblers should know that these are aspects of legalized sports betting that have already been discussed for some time.
This is just one piece of a big, moving puzzle, but for many people, it might be the most important aspect.
This Might Not Last
I hate to be the one to burst the bubble, but just because the Supreme Court denied a previously standing bill, doesn’t mean a new one couldn’t emerge.
The language would be different and it probably wouldn’t go after sports betting as a whole, but some type of broad regulation could eventually be implemented.
All that happened here is federal government made sure an old law didn’t keep states from deciding how to handle sports betting on their own.
Depending on how it goes from here, there could easily end up being future legislation that again complicates matters.
NFL Betting, Here We Come
As I suggested previously, a rough three-month timeline should be expected for the majority of states.
New Jersey is by itself ahead of the pack and in certain places (namely Monmouth Park Racetrack) are going to be taking legal sports bets almost right away.
A few other states are awaiting technicalities and could be ready to rock in a matter of weeks as well.
There is a long list of states that already have begun pushing legislation, too, and those are likely the ones that could take 1-3 months to iron everything out.
Whether or not they actually pass and legalize sports betting, of course, remains to be determined.
The states that have yet to even discuss legalized sports betting could take longer, although it’s a fair assumption that most states (if not all) will want a quick response to this huge news.
Some will swiftly deny legalized sports betting and others will push it right on through.
For the most part, a good portion of the United States could be offering legalized sports betting by the time the 2018 NFL season rolls around.
The sports world does tend to die down in the summer months, so the focus is going to be very much on the new NFL season and just how vibrant the betting world ends up being.
The options for sports bettors appear to be endless. Illegal sports betting already exists for a litany of prop bets, as well as wagering on Super Bowl 53, team records and division outcomes.
However, with sports betting about to be legalized in the states, the week to week impact is impossible to gauge and could be astronomical.
Open to Corruption?
The fact that the NFL has been so against legalized sports betting has to raise an eyebrow or three. That the NBA and MLB have agreed that heavy regulation is necessary also needs to be looked at.
There is probably a nice middle ground there, though. Absolutely, there is risk involved with sports betting at any level.
Legalizing such a volatile beast isn’t going to eliminate the risk of higher powers, players or gambling operators potentially corrupting things.
That being said, the entire regulation process should be thorough and well thought out. It might not always be perfect and some issues will pop up, but any type of corruption or cheating will likely be met with an iron fist.
The reality is illegal sports betting was already happening and corruption probably to some degree existed as well.
Opening the door to more people safely betting on sports without facing legal ramifications is good for states (financially), though, and taking the necessary precautions to ensure safety and reliability can only make it less than corrupt that it already may be.
Nobody knows for sure how things go down in the sports world if indeed cheating exists to the degree where it impacts the sportsbooks.
However, with much more money (hypothetically) on the line and state hands interwoven into the sports betting fabric, this system would be operated under a massive microscope.
That doesn’t mean corruption would be completely eradicated, but it would make it far less of an issue than leagues and potential gamblers seem to think.
The main elephant in the room for non-sports league executives is that opening up legalized sports betting to the common man would raise the risk of problem gambling.
That’s just something that is always going to be there and how big of an issue it becomes may also always be opinion-based.
Sports betting, online poker, and daily fantasy sports is the great trifecta that truly has already been available to people on the internet for years.
All of them have problem gambling protection in place and are likely to emphasize this even more as legislation passes through.
The simple fact is that gambling is entertainment and like most things, should be done in moderation. It is less about sports betting being an actual problem and more about the individual.
Ultimately, the train is on the tracks and headed in the right direction. Everything else just comes down to which states want to follow the federal government’s lead and how the leagues, sportsbooks, and government work out regulation.
For now, the gambling world will take the win and bask in the glory.
Hopefully, by the time the new NFL season rolls around all remaining questions are answered and we can all lay some bets down and enjoy the game even more.