On Monday, May 14th, the Supreme Court published their decision to legalize sports betting from a case arising in New Jersey. However, that does not mean Americans can start placing their bets.

In a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court decision states that “[p]rovisions of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act that prohibit state authorization and licensing of sports gambling schemes violate the Constitution’s anticommandeering rule.” This means that it is unconstitutional to prohibit states from legalizing sports betting, not that sports betting is now legalized across the country.

“The decision by the Supreme Court affirms that the choice to legalize sports wagering is one for the states to make for themselves,” State Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced stated. Gray proposed a state constitutional amendment that would authorize sports wagering. But that amendment must make its way through the Legislature and California voters would then have to approve it. And as CALmatters’ Dan Morain points out, “that amendment faces many hurdles in the Legislature and voters would have to approve it. The soonest that could happen is 2020.”

With a major industry being legalized, parties are jumping to get a piece of the revenue. Several interest groups have begun to weigh in from tribal communities to online gambling websites (video link) – all showing support for the legalization.

Major sports leagues such as the MLB and NBA have been lobbying for legalization heavily across the states after the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case last June. Their lobbying also includes an addition called an ‘integrity fee’ for bets placed as well as a mandate that requires casinos buy real-time data from the leagues themselves.

As sports betting is legalized major parties are constructing ways to profit from the industry, including the government. The American Gaming Association estimates wagering at about $150 billion per year. By regulating the industry, the state of California and local governments could then tax sports gambling, producing more taxpayer money to fund programs.

So what does this mean for Californians? Sports betting is not legalized, so don’t place your bets… yet.

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