[toc]The American Gaming Association estimates Americans illegally bet over $150 billion on sports every year. That’s billion with a b, making sports betting a huge, and for the most part, untaxed market.
Now, New Jersey is trying take sports betting away from offshore online and illegal bookies, make it legal, and get its fair share. Plus, a number of other states are lining up to do the same should New Jersey ultimately prove victorious in its battle to legalize sports betting.
New Jersey vs. PASPA
Lawmakers in the state first passed a bill legalizing sports betting at racetracks and casinos in 2011. Major professional sports leagues around the country stepped in and filed a lawsuit to stop them.
The leagues won their case, and after a series of failed appeals, New Jersey went to bat for legal sports betting again in 2014. It was a similar story, as lawmakers passed a bill legalizing sports betting and the leagues had it struck down in court again.
Most of New Jersey’s appeals were denied again. However, in June of this year, the US Supreme Court decided it would hear the state’s case against the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), the federal law making sports betting illegal in most states.
Briefs have been filed and the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments beginning next Monday, Dec. 4.
Awaiting a decision in the case, several states have already passed legislation to allow sports betting should SCOTUS side with New Jersey. But should New Jersey win, clearly it is in a position to get to market first.
NJ gets ready for legal sports betting
In anticipation of a Supreme Court win, MGM Resorts’ Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa has already started plans to build a $7 million sportsbook. Other casinos and racetracks in the state can’t be that far behind, nor can the burgeoning NJ online casino market.
New Jersey became one of the first states in the country to legalize and regulate online gambling, opening up the market in November 2013. In 2016, New Jersey online gambling sites posted a record $196.7 million in revenue. It was a number so big, it helped turn around a decade of losses in the Atlantic City casino industry.
This year, NJ online casinos pushed past $200 million in revenue through October, smashing records already by averaging $20 million in revenue every month. Adding its chunk of the $150 billion dollar illegal sports betting market online would clearly push revenues through the roof.
There’s an app for that
Over in Nevada, the only state where full sports betting is currently legal, several of the casino companies behind legal online gambling in New Jersey are already taking sports bets online. In fact, MGM, Caesars, and Golden Nugget all have sports betting apps up and running in the state.
A decision in New Jersey’s sports betting case is not expected until the spring of 2018. Should the Supreme Court decide in the state’s favor, it shouldn’t take more than a few mouse clicks to get these same sports betting apps up and running in New Jersey.
Operators may or may not simply add sports betting functionality to their existing NJ online gambling sites. In fact, these operators could keep sports betting apps running separately in a new legal New Jersey sports betting market. But one thing they can and will count on, is adding sports betting revenues to their bottom line in a big way.