US Supreme Court Rules Federal Government Can No Longer Ban Sports Betting

Posted on May 14th, 2018 by Jon Pineda

Christmas came early to sports bettors all across the United States. The Supreme Court, by way of a 6-3 vote, decided to end the prohibition that limited sports betting to just four states.

US Supreme Court

Individual states now have a right to legalize sports betting after the US Supreme Court shot down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. (Image: nwipr.org)

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), signed into law by then-President George H.W. Bush in 1993, was a federal law that made it illegal for any state other than Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, or Montana to accept wagers on sporting events.

You Can Thank New Jersey

In 2014, New Jersey governor Chris Christie challenged the federal law and took his case up with the US Supreme Court. On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled on the issue and determined that it was illegal for the federal government to ban sports betting and that this law should be up to each individual state.

New Jersey is expected to quickly license sportsbook operators and begin accepting wagers within a couple of weeks. Basketball bettors in the Garden State may get an opportunity to place a wager on the NBA Finals. Unless you live in or are planning on visiting Nevada, you still can’t wager on sports legally.

The Supreme Court’s ruling didn’t grant casinos all over the US the right to start taking bets on ballgames immediately. They must first wait for their individual states to legalize sports betting and then license bookmakers.

We can’t give you a timeframe for when each state will start voting on the issue as that information isn’t available. Only New Jersey appears ready to get licensed sportsbooks up and running in the immediate future.

Residents of other states may have to wait a few months, or even a year, before local sportsbooks are in operation. And it’s possible that some states will refuse to legalize sports betting, especially those with strict gambling laws.

Risk of Point Shaving?

Anti-sports betting politicians are certain to bring up the potential risk of point shaving when discussing the issue. Widespread point shaving has been one of the major concerns of the NCAA since Governor Christie challenged PASPA.

For those who don’t know, point shaving is an illegal act when an athlete, usually an amateur, intentionally blows a game to satisfy a bet. It happens more often than the public knows and many athletes never get caught because it’s tough to prove in court.

The NCAA is worried that expanded sports betting will create widespread point shaving on the assumption that more athletes will soon have easier access to bookmakers. But those who disagree argue that illegal bookmakers have always had access to collegiate athletes.

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