As New Jersey eagerly awaits a US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruling about the validity of congressional laws barring states from legislating sports betting, a new report from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming indicates that as many as 11 states could pass sports betting laws this year if New Jersey wins their case.
A company spokesperson was confident about the probability of a sports-betting boom in 2018, telling the Associated Press that, assuming SCOTUS rules in favor of New Jersey, “we could see the largest simultaneous expansion of regulated gambling in U.S. history with sports betting in 2018.”
Who’s in and who’s out for sport betting in 2018?
The report identified a list of states based on how likely those states would be to allow sports betting. Eilers & Krejcik noted that 18 states might introduce a bill to regulate sports betting, a few of which already have including Indiana and Kentucky:
- Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York, West Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky
- Illinois, Indiana, Oklahoma, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota
Most of the states are concentrated in the South. Florida, for example, does not allow DFS sports. Players who want to enter Yahoo! contests, for example, can only do so if the contests are free. Allowing sports betting would not only open the door for sports books but also daily fantasy sports contests, a multibillion dollar industry.
The research firm also identified 11 states that are more likely to pass sports betting legislation:
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
New Jersey, of course, leads the charge because it launched the appeals that lead to the pending SCOTUS decision.
How PASPA and NJ sports betting case got us to where we are
To understand why the metaphorical dam may break this year, one has to go back to 1993 when Congress enacted the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), in which states were barred from passing sports betting legislation.
At the time, the public and legislative opinion about sports betting was negative. Part of the motivation to passing the act was to curb illegal gambling. The idea was that illegal betting would flourish if more states allowed legal sports betting.
Over time, however, the boom of illegal betting in the United States has proven that conclusion false. To Congress’ credit, they had the backing of the masses — national polls indicated that the American people disapproved of sports betting.
Twenty-five years later, opinions about sports betting have completed a full pendulum swing to the other side. The Washington Post reported this past year that, for the first time in the post-PASPA age, the public approved of sports betting.
On top of that, SCOTUS agreed to hear New Jersey’s appeal on the state’s third attempt to push through its own legislation that would allow sports betting.
Their argument isn’t that sports betting is moral or should be allowed, but that PASPA violates the US Constitution’s anti-commandeering principle, which says that Congress doesn’t have the power to enact laws that leave states powerless to make decisions about things like sports betting.