The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that a 1992 federal law that restricted sports betting to just Nevada is unconstitutional, a move that is expected to create a bonanza for states looking to grow their existing gambling markets.
It was an historic moment for the U.S. casino industry, which wins around $70 billion a year from gamblers already. The casino industry estimates that Americans currently bet around $150 billion each year on sports, with less than $5 billion coming legally through Nevada’s casinos.
It’s no secret that the casino industry (with the exception of Sheldon Adelson) is embracing online gaming in an effort to generate new revenues and drive visitation to the brick-and-mortars, so sports betting will undoubtedly be available over the internet in at least some of the states where it is legalized. Pennsylvania and New Jersey are prime examples. Currently, just four states have decided to regulate online casinos, but the new ability to offer wagering on sports is sure to provide motivation for other states to go online.
It’s not hard to see how this could greatly benefit online poker.
There have been efforts over the years since the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) to regulate online poker at the federal level, but those proposals never came to fruition. UIGEA placed restrictions on the financial side of the online poker industry, and it played a huge role in cooling the poker boom of the mid-2000s.
In late 2011, just months after online poker’s infamous Black Friday, the federal government watered down another statute that impacted online gaming, the 1961 Wire Act. That move cleared the way for states to legalize online betting within their respective borders.
New Jersey, which is planning to unveil sports books in the coming weeks, partnered with Nevada and Delaware for online poker earlier this month. The Garden State’s top casino regulator agrees that the ruling against the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 could be like pouring gasoline on the online casino industry.
“If we win sports wagering, online gaming will go to every state that adopts sports betting,” David Rebuck, director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, told the Associated Presslast year. “As soon as sports wagering is legalized, online gambling will follow right behind it.”