SCOTUS Stops PASPA to Leave Sports Betting to the States

By Trey Killian

May 14th, 2018 - 12:39pm

Sports betting is now legal at the federal level thanks to a pivotal ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States.

The case of Murphy v. the NCAA has been decided 7-2 in favor of the state of New Jersey and the federal ban on sports betting has officially been overturned, opening the way for states to decide to allow it.

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, also known as the Bradley Act, was enacted in 1992 and outlawed wagering on sports in all states with a few exceptions (Nevada and Delaware for example).These exceptions, particularly the success of sports betting in Las Vegas, set the tone for New Jersey’s grievance with the law, claiming it was unfair to allow sports betting in some states but not others. After a lengthy deliberation the SCOTUS agreed.

The official ruling stated the following:

The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make. Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own. Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not. PASPA “regulate[s] state governments’ regulation” of their citizens, New York, 505 U. S., at 166. The Constitution gives Congress no such power. The judgment of the Third Circuit is reversed.

The SCOTUS decided that based on the platitude presented in the 10th Amendment:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

By this logic, it made sense to the justices that the federal government shouldn’t impose its judgment on whether or not a state could allow betting, especially since most states have the power to allow or ban other forms of gambling if they choose to.

New Jersey among States in Prime Position

New Jersey served as the battleground for this case and it stands as one of the states expected to offer sports betting the soonest. Legislation has already been passed in the Garden State and all it needs is final approval and some finishing touches to be enacted.

Thanks to a bit of foresight from CEO Dennis Drazin, the Monmouth Park racetrack has already had its sports bar converted into a sportsbook and it will be ready to go in the coming months should sports betting get underway.

Other states ready to jump in include West Virginia, Delaware (due to its pre-existed legislation involving sports parlays), Mississippi and Pennsylvania. States like New York and Massachusetts have also pursued legislation that would implement betting but are a little behind the leaders of the pack.

Leagues Fight for Piece of Action

Professional sports leagues like the NFL and MLB were some of the chief opponents to these proceedings for a variety of both explicitly stated and underlying reasons.

The leagues have proclaimed for some time that they’re concerned about the use of what they consider their “intellectual property” in the form of the athletic events they put on.

They also purport to be concerned about maintaining the integrity of the games in light of this legislation and the growth of sports betting beyond Vegas.

Thus, in an attempt to not be left out, the leagues have maintained steady support for “integrity fees” sometimes involving a 1% take on every wager made. The Leagues have made repeated attempts to push these conditions into proposed legislation.

Whether or not the leagues will get their way remains to be seen as there is no real precedence for these compensations in the Las Vegas sports betting market that’s existed for decades.
Written By
Trey Killian

Trey Killian is a writer and editor of content for As a writer, he covers the sports betting and other gambling industries in the U.S. and maintains a specific, extensive background in sports writing.

A graduate of Marquette University, Trey is... Read More

Trey Killian is a writer and editor of content for As a writer, he covers the sports betting and other gambling industries in the U.S. and maintains a specific, extensive background in...

Read More