Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now

A New Chapter in US Sports Betting History?

Posted on March 12, 2018 by Stephen Benton

betting-LVGambling has been in a very ambiguous situation in the United States for years, even with the changes that took place in the last decade. There are states where all forms of gambling – even online gambling at Wild Jack Casino – is legal and regulated, and there are others where not even lotteries are permitted. Sports betting, for example, has been under a federal ban all over in the US (with the exception of Nevada) for more than two decades thanks to the piece of legislation called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992, that effectively outlawed it to protect the integrity of the sport. But times have changed, and society changed with them – betting has become an “acceptable” pastime today in most parts of the world. And some states want to legalize and regulate it – New Jersey has even taken its case to the Supreme Court, calling the PASPA unconstitutional and demanding its repeal.

At the same time, two of the three biggest sports leagues in the United States have also changed their stance on legal sports betting. The NFL is holding its ground the longest – it is still against betting on its games, but its tone has softened a bit this year, suggesting that it will probably “accept its fate” if the federal law banning sports betting is finally repealed. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred was reserved about the business last summer, stating that his league would prefer to have a say in how the business is implemented and regulated if the PASPA is repealed. It might already be a bit late for that – if the law is repealed, states will have the right to decide for themselves how to handle the matter – but this is a bridge they’ll cross when they get to it.

And the NBA’s stance on the matter seems the most straightforward of them all right now. What Adam Silver is proposing right now is that sports betting operators pay a 1% fee on their handle (all the money the bookmakers receive from bettors) to the leagues as an “integrity fee” or a “royalty fee”. Silver mentioned that the NBA will spend “roughly $7.5 billion” to create “this content”, “these games”, and this makes it an intellectual property creator. He cites “other (overseas) jurisdictions” as the inspiration for this fee. Considering that illegal offshore betting is estimated to have a handle of $150 billion a year (with a limited audience and with no advertising to speak of), this would amount to quite a lot.

Again, this will be a discussion that will have to be continued in the future. Right now, the Supreme Court has still not decided whether to admit New Jersey’s case and allow the state – and many others – to regulate sports betting as they see fit. But one thing’s for sure: up to 20 US states are preparing legislation to regulate the business should the SC decide in New Jersey’s favor.

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