Place Your Bets: Supreme Court Strikes Down PASPA

We’ve been in shock! Well, sort of.

During the off-season lull in NFL and SEC news, we were jolted back into the buzz with a decision from the highest court in the land.

The United States Supreme Court recently struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) that had banned sports gambling nationally. It is a landmark decision that will reshape the way fans enjoy sports. There, of course, will need to be further legislation passed to help bolster an industry that could explode with profit.

As of right now, the decision only lifts the ban and allows states to ultimately decide if they want to go forward with legalized betting.

How will this unfold? 

Folks across the professional sports and gambling industries hope that Congress offers up a federal ruling to help ensure a seamless transition. If Congress fails to act the resulting chaos of state by state legal statutes that national associations and leagues will have to navigate will be enormous and might hinder the development of the sports betting market.

The court ultimately ruled that the 1992 decision was far-reaching and unconstitutional. It encompasses colleges and professional sports, so there are many factors at play here. For the NCAA, it adds another layer of debate to the notion of monetarily rewarding student-athletes. There will be even more money flow up for grabs, especially with college football.

It will be interesting to see how the NCAA handles that issue going forward.

What about the Pros?

The implications for Major League Baseball are also interesting to consider. The game’s all-time hits leader, Pete Rose, has been banned from the Hall of Fame for decades because of a betting scandal that involved him betting on his team to win. Not much of a scandal if you ask me. The legalization of sports betting now puts the league’s position on shaky ground. If they endorse sports betting under the new law, then how can they on the same hand scorn one of their most iconic players. The removal of the illegality aspect should be enough to sway league officials into lifting Rose’s ban, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

When considering sports gambling, the big worry for people who run the major sports leagues has always been about integrity. They shriek with fear at the idea of a points shaving scandal or stars wagering on the outcomes of their games. These fears are overblown, the total legalization and saturation of the gambling market reduce the incentive to rig games to zero. Also, once systems go online, it will be possible for gambling agencies to monitor bets for irregularities and help eliminate any foul play.

Who will benefit first? 

Two companies that are poised to make a lot of money are fantasy sports platforms, FanDuel and DraftKings. They both already have a broad membership and functional system for quickly adopting a betting feature. Luckily for the two companies, they’ll be at the forefront of a market that has a very high ceiling. With their current capabilities, it isn’t hard to imagine sitting at home, watching your favorite team with your phone in your hand and betting on a live event.

The possibilities are endless with the sort of bets that can be placed. The old standard formats of over/under, line bets, etc. will become less significant if not obsolete. Fans will bet on more minuscule outcomes like which team will be winning at halftime. Or maybe even which team has the most injuries at the end of the game. The bets will seem silly and pointless, but it will give fans another reason to be invested in the outcome of an event.

Gabriel Feldman, the director of the sports law program at Tulane Law, has said that “It will make every second of every game of every week interesting to fans as it will give everyone something to root for.” Whether he is correct or not, only time will tell.

What about the SEC?

It appears Mississippi will become the first southern state to move forward with legalized sports gambling. The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians has been approved to start taking bets at all their casinos along the Gulf as well as up the Mississippi River Valley. In all, there are about 28 casinos that will be able to take bets on sporting events.

Bets will start taking place as soon as July which is big news for a region that is dominated by its favorite sports teams. The SEC reigns supreme in the area due to hardly any Professional sports presence in the deep south. Because of this teams like Ole Miss, Miss State, and LSU will likely see immediate gains in attendance as fans will be more invested in the outcome of games.


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 (Photo Courtesy SportsHandle)

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