There’s no indication that the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on sports betting this week or in the immediate weeks ahead, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. A timeline for a decision is hush-hush.
The uncertainty surrounding exactly when the justices will issue an opinion on the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, also known as PASPA, has the gaming industry on the edge of its seat. That is especially the case now during what the industry says is a roughly $10 billion black market for bets on the ongoing March Madness tournament. The casino industry is hoping this is the last NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament where regional gambling dens are barred under federal law from taking bets on the games.
A ruling from the Supreme Court is expected to come by July at the latest. If a decision comes during the summer, it would be handed down about a year after the high court said it would hear New Jersey’s challenge to the law that it says is unconstitutional. The Garden State wants Atlantic City casinos, hungry for more gambling winnings, to be able to have sports books.
Justices heard oral arguments for and against PASPA back in December. “While it is difficult to predict the outcome of the court, momentum seemed to be in New Jersey’s favor, with several justices seeming sympathetic to the Garden State’s arguments,” American Gaming Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman said after the hearing.
The consensus is that the Court will in some way dismantle PASPA and let states authorize sports betting within their respective borders if they want it. About 20 states have made legislative moves to prepare for being allowed to have sports books. The major sports leagues and the NCAA have as a collective unit gradually warmed to sports betting in the face of its seemingly inevitable proliferation. PASPA limits sports books to just the state of Nevada.
New Jersey is likely following the Supreme Court’s actions closer right now than any other state interested in sports betting. The state is already accepting applications for sports books and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is on the record saying that New Jersey could have sports books open and running “within two weeks” of a favorable Supreme Court ruling.
The stakes are extremely high, as Americans bet an estimated $150 billion a year on sports, with less than $5 billion coming through regulated sports books in Nevada. Oxford Economics estimates that repealing PASPA and creating a regulated market would create up to $26.6 billion in annual economic impact. Research group Eilers & Krejcik Gaming estimates that Americans bet as much as $60 billion each year on offshore gambling sites