In what could be regarded as an under-reported news story, on May 14, 2018, the United States Supreme Court cleared the way for individual states to legalize sports betting. Decided under a States Rights analysis, the Supreme Court in Murphy v. NCAA adopted the reasoning of Third Circuit Judge, the Honorable Thomas I. Vanaskie, in his dissent below. The Supreme Court adopted Judge Vanaskie’s “anti-commandeering doctrine” analysis.

In the Supreme Court decision, Justice Alito, writing for the majority, recognized: “The legalization of sports gambling is a controversial subject. Supporters argue that legalization will produce revenue for the States and critically weaken illegal sports betting operations, which are often run by organized crime. Opponents contend that legalizing sports gambling will hook the young on gambling, encourage people of modest means to squander their savings and earnings, and corrupt professional and college sports. . . The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make. Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own. Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution.”

So what can we expect? Reports out of Harrisburg demonstrate that legislation is already under consideration to allow sports betting in conjunction with existing gambling locations — casinos, race tracks, off-track betting, etc. As for the cultural impact of sports betting across the United States, that remains to be seen. The impacts of sports betting across the United States will become, at the very least, interesting to watch. Current estimates indicate that sports betting is a $150 billion industry. Once that is regulated and legislated, those numbers will likely increase. Stay tuned

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