The outlook for sports betting in the United States

Bishop Woosley of the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery explains the PASPA overturn and how this ruling of the Supreme Court is set to radically alter the sports betting landscape across the United States.

Bishop Woosley, Director of the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery

Background

Prior to the Supreme Court of the United States ruling from May this year in the case Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, No. 16-476 which stroke down the federal ban on betting on professional and collegiate sports (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 or the so-called PASPA), only very few exemptions existed: licensed sports pools in Nevada and state sports lotteries in Montana, Oregon and Delaware. All the other sports gambling during that time period was illegal, as all the states failed to make use of a one-year window of opportunity foreseen by the Congress to pass laws which would allow sports wagering (for those states which operated licensed casino gambling for the previous ten-year period).

In particular, what has been struck down is a provision of PASPA which mandates that states may not “sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize by law or compact” sports betting. This left the states free to determine on their own whether they believe gambling on sports should be legal within their borders or not.

Looking back, this outcome was the result of a long-running attempt by New Jersey to legalise sports betting, following the 2011 (non-binding) referendum where New Jersey voters overwhelmingly supported the creation of a state constitutional amendment that would permit sports gambling.

The post-PASPA prospects

In fact, already prior to the ruling, several states had made their moves to enact legislation which would permit sports betting in the event PASPA was overturned. With the PASPA ‘roadblock’ now effectively out of the way, it is likely that we will witness a proliferation of operators moving quickly to establish sports betting and claim ‘their’ share of the new market.

A considerable number of states are now gearing up for the 2019 legislative sessions by pre-filing bills or initiating studies, but the exact timeline is still very much uncertain, as all will depend on how quickly a given state is ready to push through legislation of their own.

Talking of his native Arkansas, Woosley announced the ballot initiative for November election 2018 which would legalize sports betting in four casinos.

GamblingCompliance estimates that within the next five to seven years, legal, regulated sports betting in the US could spread to between 25 and 37 states and generate between $2.0bn and $5.9bn in annual gaming revenue.

The presentation was given at the 2018 EL Legal and Regulatory Seminar.

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Les perspectives concernant les paris sportifs aux États-Unis

Avant la décision de la Cour suprême des États-Unis de mai dernier, qui a mis fin à l’interdiction fédérale sur les paris sur les sports professionnels et universitaires (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, PASPA), il n’existait que très peu d’exemptions : des lotos sportifs sous licence au Nevada et des loteries d’État dans le Montana, l’Oregon et le Delaware. Tous les autres paris sportifs étaient illégaux durant cette période, car aucun État n’avait fait usage du créneau d’un an prévu par le Congrès pour adopter des lois autorisant les paris sportifs. Les États sont désormais libres de décider par eux-mêmes s’ils pensent que les paris sportifs doivent ou non être légaux à l’intérieur de leurs frontières. De fait, plusieurs États avaient déjà décidé, avant cette décision, d’adopter des lois autorisant les paris sportifs dans l’éventualité où la PASPA serait abrogée, et un certain nombre d’États se préparent maintenant aux sessions législatives de 2019 en déposant des projets de loi ou en lançant des études. Nous assisterons probablement à une prolifération d’opérateurs s’organisant rapidement pour mettre en place des lotos sportifs et revendiquer « leur » part du nouveau marché, mais le calendrier exact reste encore incertain, car tout dépendra de la rapidité avec laquelle un État donné sera prêt à faire adopter sa propre législation.

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