In 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act banned sports betting everywhere in the U.S. except in the state of Nevada. This led to an increase in illegal yet lucrative sports betting operations in the United States. In fact, according to the American Gaming Association (AGA), roughly $150 billion is wagered on sports annually but only $4.5 billion of these bets were legally made in Nevada last year.
In the next four months, many sports betting websites and sports betting software companies expect the Supreme Court to decide whether to hear an appeal by Governor Chris Christie and the State of New Jersey that would allow states to make their own decision on whether or not sports betting would be legal within their borders.
The AGA’s main initiative over the past two year has been to the regulation of sports betting. This week however, they took it one step further when the AGA’s board of director outlined the industry’s approach to sports betting legalization which would amongst other things:
- Give each states the ability to decided whether to make sports betting and casino wagering legal within their borders
- Ensure the integrity of sports wagering and sports with state licensing and regulation;
- Make all sports betting transactions and businesses transparent to law enforcement
- Ensure proper taxation so that state licensed and regulated sportsbooks are compete against illegal offshore operators.
What the court will do is not certain as the debate will mostly be about state vs. federal regulations. Major US pro sports leagues are either against legalizing sports betting or want it to be legalized at a federal level. This is a debate of states’ rights versus intrusive and economically harmful federal overreach. On the other hand, the regulation of gambling in the United States has always been a decision of each state.
Legal Sports Betting could be a reality in the Trump Presidency
Several experts in the sports betting industry believe that legal sports betting will come before the year 2020 or before the end of Trump’s first term in office.
With the rise of fantasy sports and the increasing number of states that are interested in legal sports betting due to the added tax, infrastructure and tourist revenues, makes it more likely that the Sports Protection Act will either be repealed.
And then we have President Trump who at one time or another owned three casino in Atlantic City and is in favor of legalizing sports betting.
"I'm OK with it because it's happening anyway," Trump told Fox Sports in November 2015. "Whether you have it or you don't have it, you have it."
For the offshore sportsbook, does this mean that this is the beginning of the end of a profitable era for them? Or will this be the beginning of a mass migration of sportsbook moving their office to the United States?