US Real Money Sports Betting gaining Momentum
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In he United States, only four states are capable of providing legal real money sports betting outlets. Between them, only Nevada has elected to do so. This stems from decades-old opposition to sportsbook operations from professional and amateur athletic associations. But now, while many of those organizations are shifting their support towards legalization, lawmakers are still ignoring the call.
Brief History of US Sports Betting Laws
Let’s take a step back in time to 1992. Sport betting was legal back then, but only four states chose to authorize it – Delaware, Oregon, Montana and, of course, Nevada. But there was so much opposition coming in from professional and collegiate sports associations who felt it was undermining the integrity of the games, that the federal government was convinced to put a cap on it.
They did so by passing the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
The government felt it would be unfair to simply prohibit states who’ve been relying on revenue from real money sports betting for years, so prohibition was not enforced in those four states. However, three of them – all but Nevada – willingly chose to eliminate the gambling activity from their jurisdictions. They can, however, reinstate sports betting anytime they wish.
Lawmakers even felt it was necessary to give all states where other forms of gambling were legal the opportunity to authorize sports betting, before PASPA went into effect. None accepted the offer.
Ironically, even New Jersey passed on a chance to legalize sportsbooks. Two decades later, NJ Gov. Chris Christie started an initiative to legalize sports betting at Atlantic City casinos. For the last four years, he’s failed at multiple attempts, including the latest effort through the Circuit Court of Appeals, but he’s not done yet. The case is now expected to be appealed at the Supreme Court level.
Momentum Shifting Among Sports Leagues
The same athletic organizations that once claimed real money sports betting would corrupt the games are now looking at the matter in a whole new light. In 2015, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver became the first athletic official to verbalize support for legalization, and now there’s a new, highly unexpected voice joining the chorus.
David Stern, who’s held numerous high-ranking position with the National Basketball Association since 1966, now thinks its a good idea. Stern started his NBA career as outside counsel in 1966, transitioning to General Counsel in 1978, and Executive Vice President of the league in 1980. He then succeeded Larry O’Brien as NBA Commissioner fro 1984 – 2014.
Stern played an instrumental role in getting PASPA into the law books, being the head of one of the most outspoken athletic organizations to lobby against sports betting. And now, even his opinion has turned 180 degrees.
He appeared at a New York forum last month where he encouraged lawmakers to script a spots betting framework at the federal level, thereby legalizing it in all 50 states.
“Pro sports leagues, by their very constitutions, are national entities that are more easily regulated by one body,” said Stern, echoing the opinion of his successor. “I think that gives a way for states to make more money, for leagues to be compensated for their intellectual property, and for the federal government to take away illegally bet money and put it through the federal coffers.”
DFS Success Attributed To Shift
For more than two decades, athletic leagues felt there was no money to be made – not by them, anyway – from real money sports betting. Then Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) sites came along and proved them wrong.
Sites like DraftKings and FanDuel proved that betting on sports increased viewership and the overall popularity of sports. Not only that, leagues were able to get huge sponsorship contracts with operators. It was a fiscal win-win for all.
Opening the doors to real sports betting – not the ‘skill-based’ version that is DFS – would have even more benefits for leagues, as well as state tax coffers and the millions of punters who inevitably place wagers on the ‘black market’.
No Law Changes In Foreseeable Future
Despite all this, there are no law changes coming in the foreseeable future. The federal government has been staunchly opposed to giving New Jersey the right to host real money sports betting at its licensed casinos, thus a movement to lift the ban across the entire nation is unlikely – at least, not anytime soon.
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