The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to remove federal restrictions on sports betting will have a profound impact on the gambling industry. However, arguably the biggest winners from this judicial decision will be online gambling platforms, which are already set up to take advantage of any legalization pushes at the state level.
Sports betting has been largely prohibited in the United States since 1992 thanks to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which barred states from lifting pre-existing state restrictions on gambling. (Because Nevada had no such restrictions, it could continue to permit gambling.) However, following repeated challenges by New Jersey with support from a number of other states, the Supreme Court has ruled the federal law to be unconstitutional, making it perfectly legal for individual states to approve sports betting.
It didn’t happen without a fight, though. A number of sporting organizations, including the NCAA, NFL, and NBA, supported the existing prohibition at the federal level. Despite that pressure though, the Supreme Court ultimately voted to allow states to set their own legislation with regards to sports betting — barring a future decision by Congress to directly regulate gambling.
With many states already on board with the change, having helped New Jersey fight the restrictions themselves, there will no doubt be a number that are keen to allow sports betting to increase revenue.
However, as TechCrunch points out, the real winners of this change to the law could be online companies that are already set up to handle sports viewing and gambling. Fantasy sports organizations like DraftKings could easily convert their business model to facilitate more traditional gambling practices. Tech companies with online streaming rights could also implement their own betting platforms, especially since they wouldn’t be tied to singular geographical areas as are more traditional, physical gambling locations.
That is unless A.I. makes sports betting redundant in the near future.
The change to the law has raised some concerns around fairness in sports and whether expanded money making from college athletes should mean that players are better compensated for their time and skills. There’s also the potential for this kind of change — which hinged on the idea that federal authorities don’t have the power to constrain the right of states to set their own laws — to be cited in similar cases, including the argument that states have the right to decide on the legalization of cannabis.