Commentary

Lots Of Action On The Table After SCOTUS' Decision On Sports Betting

With the U.S. Supreme Court striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) that outlawed sports betting outside Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon, odds are that wagers on everything imaginable — and some things almost not — will be coming to a parlor nearer to you.

“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 A. Alito Jr. wrote for the 6-3 majority in the decision released Monday. “Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not,” Rick Maese reports for the Washington Post.

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“Businesses on both sides of the Atlantic are working to launch or expand U.S. operations, hoping to get a piece of what could be a multibillion-dollar industry,” Chris Kirkham and Austen Hufford report for the Wall Street Journal after Murphy prevailed in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association. (The case, formerly known as “Christie vs. …” carries the name of the current governor of New Jersey, which brought the case.) 

“New Jersey has long hoped that allowing sports betting would revive the state’s struggling racetracks and casinos. In March of this year, ESPN projected that if New Jersey were to win, the state could have legal sports betting by the time football season kicks off in the fall; nearly two dozen other states are also considering bills that would allow sports betting. The economic impact of allowing sports betting cannot be understated: Legal sports betting in Las Vegas takes in over $5 billion each year, and most estimates put the value of illegal sports betting in the United States at up to $100 billion,” Amy Howe writes for SCOTUSblog.

“Paddy Power Betfair, a Dublin gambling company, said Wednesday it is in talks to merge its U.S. business with FanDuel Inc., a fantasy-sports company that offers games daily. FanDuel, based in New York City, declined to comment,” the WSJ’s Kirkham and Hufford continue. “Churchill Downs Inc., which hosts the Kentucky Derby, said Wednesday it is planning to expand its sports-betting business. That came on the heels of similar announcements from casino operators, including Caesars Entertainment Corp.”

Former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, who was one of the sponsors of the 1992 legislation limiting sports gambling to only a few states, rued Monday’s decision that PASPA is unconstitutional. 

“I think the court ignored the impact that the ruling will have on sports in America, and values you learn form sports. I mean, they've turned every basketball player, football player and baseball player into a roulette chip,” he tells NorthJersey.com's Herb Jackson. “And that doesn't mean pros only. Because now you can bet on college, you could even bet on high school. You could even bet on AAU, 14-year-olds playing in the finals of the AAU. And the only winner here are casinos, in my opinion.”

Including those in Las Vegas, if Jim Murren, the chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International, is representative of his colleagues’ thinking.

“Yes, we've enjoyed a monopoly or a near-monopoly on sports betting, but Las Vegas benefits when there there’s interest in our field, in our field of entertainment sports, sports betting, gambling in general,” Murren tells NPR’s Leila Fadel. “It will promote activity, increase fan interest in the team, in the sport, in the league which we believe will in turn increase their interest in going to the sports mecca of sports betting and gambling: Las Vegas.” 

In applauding the decision, The American Gaming Association says it’s “a victory for the millions of Americans who seek to bet on sports in a safe and regulated manner,” citing the 55% of Americans who agree, according to a WaPo survey.

Whether your friendly (to a point) local bookie agrees, however, remains to be determined.

Meanwhile, as of yesterday morning, Paddy Power Betfair “has 13 propositional — or prop — bets listed” for the royal wedding this Saturday between Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. “As one would expect, nearly everything is on the table,” Eli Blumenthal writes for USA Today. “Who will walk Markle down the aisle? Will her onscreen husband and ‘Suits’ co-star Patrick Adams be at the wedding? What dish will be served for the main course?”

“The oddsmakers currently anticipate Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, to walk her down the aisle (1/5 odds), the queen to wear a green hat (4/6 odds) and that the couple will go by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (1/3 odds).”

The only question missing, it appears, is “Why in the world would we care?”

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