It has been 15 months since the Supreme Court of the United States overturned the Bradley Act, making sports betting potentially legal across the land.
The sports betting genie is out of the bottle, never to be reconfined. However, expectations that legalized sports wagering would sweep the country have proven somewhat exaggerated.
Ten states and the territory of Puerto Rico have joined Nevada in offering live, single-game betting.
In the District of Columbia and seven states, wagering is authorized but not yet live, while 18 states are still grappling with legislation of sports betting.
Florida and seven other states haven’t even considered it. There is some upside. Writes the American Gaming Association’s Casey Clark,
“states and sovereign tribal nations have started to build their own legal, regulated sports betting markets generating $430.2 million industrywide over the last year. This is a dramatic jump from the $261.3 million in revenue generated by Nevada alone in 2017.”
How did we get here?
First, some background. In 1992, the United States Congress passed the Professional & Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), also known as the Bradley Act after New Jersey Sen.
Bill Bradley, who was a former professional basketball player.
The law allowed a one-year window for states to enact sports betting or lose out forever.
Nevada took advantage of this. New Jersey did not. Delaware, Oregon and Montana enacted versions of sports wagering so arcane as to be insignificant sources of revenue.
During the tenure (2010-18) of Garden State Gov. Chris Christie, New Jersey began litigating the Bradley Act, even trying to make an end-run around it by legalizing unregulated sports wagering
Neither that nor the state’s arguments made a dent with a series of federal courts … until Christie and successor Phil Murphy reached the United States Supreme Court.
The arguments had little to do with handle and point spreads, and everything to do with esoteric concepts like “commandeering”: the ability of the federal government to arrogate powers that are normally the province of the state. By a 6-3 margin, the Supremes ruled that the Bradley Act was an overreach, rendering it null and void.
Immediately on Capitol Hill, not having learned from the high court’s chastisement, lawmakers began floating the idea of federal regulation of sports wagering.
It was a concept that had little buoyancy.
“I’ve been up on the Hill a lot and I’ve talked to a lot of senators, a lot of members of the House and there has been very little interest among members of the House or the Senate to take up federal legislation on this.”AGA President Bill Miller told Sports Betting Operator
SPORT BETTING CONCEPT
As for the major sporting leagues and the NCAA, which oversees collegiate sports, they did an abrupt about face and began trying to shake down the casinos for profit participation.
One gambit was to try and require casinos to get their betting data strictly from the leagues themselves. Another was to try and require “integrity fees,” a form of taxation upon sports books.
“They’re 0 for 19 so far,” Miller told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“The leagues obviously have a responsibility to run their teams with integrity, but they had that responsibility well before sports betting moved into these states.
That’s why the legislators reject that argument that there be an additional fee to do what they had done previously.”
So eager were the leagues to get in bed with sports wagering that in some states, including New Jersey and Illinois, sports books are—or soon will be—embedded in professional stadiums.
So, if the Chicago Cubs game is a little slow and you feel like having a bit of a flutter on the cross-town White Sox, you will be able to go up to a window in Wrigley Field and place your wager.
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