May 15, 2018
In a 6-3 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Governor Phil Murphy, et. al, of New Jersey on May 14—calling the federal ban on sports betting unconstitutional and opening up the potential for many more states to adopt legalized sports betting, Business Insider reported.
The decision overturns the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which was passed in 1992 and effectively banned sports betting outside of Nevada and a few other states that had been grandfathered in under the law.
Specifically, the Court ruled that “Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own.
“Justice Samuel Alito, a New Jersey native, gave the majority opinion, saying, “Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not.”
The news opens up a potential windfall for New Jersey and specifically Atlantic City, Business Insider noted—with millions of potential bettors now just a short drive away from legalized sports betting.
And the American public approves: A poll fielded by the University of Massachusetts–Lowell on behalf of The Washington Post late last year found fully 55% support making gambling on professional sports legal in all states – it is legal now only in Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon – compared to 33% who disapprove.
Indeed, the researchers discovered that, although gambling on professional sports is illegal in most states, one in five fans has placed a bet to date—and 73% of those who did so said it made watching the games more interesting.
“A majority of Americans now favor sports betting, but this is especially true among respondents younger than 50. This suggests that support may actually continue to increase in years to come. I would not be surprised if we see a push to legalize sports betting in more states, especially in states with the ballot initiative,” said Prof. Joshua Dyck, co-director of the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion.
Research contact: Joshua_Dyck@uml.edu