With a very interesting decision by the United States Supreme Court in May of 2018, the legal path to online betting was opened in the United States. This essentially means America got the go-ahead on sports betting. Unfortunately, it was not an over night even that magically made the hobby legal in every state. With the court’s decision, it is now up to each state to decide if they will take a new approach to gambling and will need to each set up their own regulations. Unsurprisingly, this is a very slow process as state legislatures each propose and debate any law changes.
The decision from the Supreme Court effectively struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (so-called PASPA Law) that limited sports gambling to a single state for the last 25 years. This law was signed by George Bush, Sr. and took effect in January of 1993. The 6-3 SCOTUS decision declared the federal law unconstitutional and now each state may regulate it how they see fit.
First of all, as we all know, most prohibitions simply don’t work. Just think of how much organized crime groups have earned when the sale and consumption of alcohol were forbidden nationwide between 1920 and 1933. With sports betting, the case was the same: with the passing of PASPA, sports betting went underground and beyond government control but it didn’t disappear. Instead, it gave birth to a massive illegal sports betting market estimated to have a value of hundreds of billions of dollars each year. And all that money changed hands without the government having any control over it, and going overseas. The law – PASPA – that was meant to protect sports from the influence of betting groups apparently backfired: while in Europe, the sports betting industry formed its own watchdogs meant to prevent match-fixing and other illegal activities, in the US, all the bets were placed underground, and nobody safeguarded the integrity of sports.
Here is what analysts at USA Today had to say about how the Supreme Court decision would impact Wisconsin:
The court’s ruling is not expected to have an immediate impact in Wisconsin, though tribal casinos in the state could seek to amend gaming compacts in an effort to allow it at their existing casinos.
“The legislature is not in session and there is no pending legislation on this,” said Steve Michels, assistant deputy secretary of the state’s department of administration. “Sports gaming is prohibited by the Wisconsin constitution, state law, and is not allowed under the state tribal compacts.”
Wisconsin’s constitution clearly prohibits sports betting, and this puts it out of the question – at least for now. Native tribes operating casinos on the state’s territory do not, in turn, need a change in the state’s constitution to be able to start accepting bets at their establishments. For them, an amendment to the gaming compacts is enough. But the state is not reqiuired to amend these unless it would allow nontribal players to offer sports betting in the state – and this is not the case. There is still potential for sports betting to emerge in the state, though, even if it’s quite unlikely to happen in the short-term.
So maybe not any time soon in the Packer’s home state of Wisconsin. With that said, states like New Jersey are already allowing it to happen with regulation in place. As far as betting on the NFL being legitimized, much like recreational marijuana, it pretty much just depends on what state you live in. While New Jersey wasted no time getting started, most states are still debating the idea so it will be at least a few more years before it becomes more mainstream.