Could the United States soon join the rest of the civilized world and allow legal betting on sports? After oral arguments in December in the case of Christie v NCAA, many court observers believe the decision, expected sometime in June, will open the door for the states to legalize gambling on sporting events. At the heart of the case is the constitutionality of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA).
Without going too far into the legal weeds (although, who doesn’t love legal weed?), the PASPA took the unusual position of not outlawing sports betting, but instead, prohibiting the states from enacting a law that would legalize sports betting. If you weren’t one of the four states that had already approved sports betting (Nevada, Montana, Oregon, and Delaware), you were shit out of luck. Not surprisingly, the Supreme Court doesn’t seem to love that concept. In fact, five of the justices appeared openly hostile to the idea back in December.
But don’t stiff your bookie just yet. In fact, don’t ever stiff your bookie. That’s how people end up “accidentally” breaking a leg. Even if SCOTUS overturns PASPA, there are a number of hurdles left to go. First of all, your state would still have to pass a law legalizing it. They would have to set up rules and regulatory bodies, grant licenses, and make sure safeguards are in place to prevent underage betting.
A bigger potential hurdle could be the NFL and the NCAA being little bitches about it. MLB has signaled that they are open to the idea, and the NBA loves it so much, they’ve already floated the idea of the league receiving 1% of the revenue from wagering on their sport. But the NCAA and the NFL, being the models of virtue, may very possibly attempt to go to Congress and beg them to write a new law that would address the deficiencies in the PASPA and make betting on their sports illegal. Just when you didn’t think you could hate Goodell any more, amiright?
So, stay tuned. Most estimates have Americans wagering roughly $100 billion illegally just on football every year. That’s roughly a $300 bet from every man, woman, and child in the US. That’s a lot of criminals out there. And that of course, is bullshit. The government has an opportunity to have billions of dollars handed to them without a tax increase on anyone. It will be interesting to see how they screw it up.