Sports betting has been around for centuries, but it wasn’t always legal. In this blog post, we explore the history of sports betting and when it became legal in the United States.
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In 1992, Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which prohibited states from authorizing or licensing sports betting. The only exceptions to this were Nevada, Montana, Delaware, and Oregon, which were grandfathered in because they had some form of sports betting prior to PASPA.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was a federal law that was enacted in 1992. It effectively banned sports betting in the United States, with a few exceptions. The act was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2018, opening the door for states to legalize and regulate sports betting.
PASPA was sponsored by then-Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey and passed by Congress with little opposition. The law prohibited state-regulated sports betting, but did exempt four states that had existing sports lotteries: Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon. In addition, PASPA grandfathered in any legal sport betting that was already taking place in those states.
Bradley’s intent was to protect the integrity of sporting events from the potentially corrupting influence of gambling. But critics argued that PASPA was an unconstitutional infringement on state’s rights, and violated the anti-commandeering principle established by the Supreme Court in New York v. United States (1992).
In May 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of New Jersey and struck down PASPA as unconstitutional. The decision paved the way for states to legalize and regulate sports betting within their borders. As of 2021, more than 20 states have done so.
In 1949, the state of Nevada legalized gaming, which included sports betting. This made Nevada the only state in the US where one could place a legal bet on a sporting event. The practice continued until 2018, when the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that had restricted sports betting to Nevada. This decision paved the way for other states to legalize sports betting, and as of 2020, more than 20 states have done so.
In May of 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of New Jersey, opening the door for all states to offer legal sports betting if they so choose.
Delaware was one of the first four states to offer legal sports betting, with single-game wagering beginning on June 5th, 2018. The first bets were placed at Delaware Park racetrack, with more locations becoming available throughout the state in the following months.
As of October 2019, there are three locations where you can place a bet on sports in Delaware:
-Delaware Park Racetrack (Wilmington)
– Dover Downs Hotel & Casino (Dover)
– Harrington Raceway & Casino (Harrington)
In November 2011, New Jersey voters passed a referendum to legalize sports betting in the state. The law was signed by Governor Chris Christie in January 2012, and sports betting started in the state in June 2012. The law allows sports betting to be conducted at casinos and racetracks, as well as through mobile devices. In May 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law that had prevented states from legalizing sports betting, and since then, a number of states have passed laws to allow it.
Mississippi was the fourth state to legalize sports betting in 2018. The state’s gaming commission approved regulations in June, and sportsbooks began taking bets in August.
Mississippi is home to 26 casinos, all of which are located on riverboats or near the Mississippi River. The state’s gaming commission said that any of the casinos could apply for a sports betting license, and all but one have done so.
The Mississippi Gaming Commission has set a $1,000 fee for a sports betting license, and casinos must also pay a 10 percent tax on their handle.
The West Virginia Legislature passed a sports betting bill in March 2018, and Gov. Jim Justice signed it into law on March 9, 2018. The law went into effect on Aug. 1, 2018, making West Virginia the fifth state to offer legal sports betting since the Supreme Court overturned the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May 2018.
On Aug. 30, 2018, the first legal sports bets were placed in West Virginia when FanDuel Sportsbook at The Greenbrier casino took its first bet. Another operator, DraftKings Sportsbook, began taking bets Aug. 31 at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.
West Virginia offers both online and mobile sports betting. Bets can be placed online using computers or mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Online sportsbooks began taking bets on Sept. 1, 2018.
In Pennsylvania, sports betting became legal on November 16, 2018 when the state’s gaming control board approved regulations. The first sportsbook opened on November 17, 2018 at the Hollywood Casino in Grantville. Online and mobile sports betting launched on May 28, 2019.
The Future of Sports Betting
The Supreme Court’s Decision in Murphy v. NCAA
In May of 2018, the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), a law that had effectively banned sports betting in most states since 1992. The decision in Murphy v. NCAA has led to a flurry of activity as states move to legalize and regulate sports betting.
At the time PASPA was enacted, it grandfathered in Nevada’s legal sports betting market, and it also allowed for a potential expansion of sports betting in Delaware, Montana, and Oregon – but that never happened. Since PASPA’s repeal, Delaware has launched legal sports betting, and Montana and Oregon are working on plans to do the same.
It’s estimated that there are currently around $150 billion wagered on sports each year in the United States – but only about $5 billion of that is wagered through legal channels. With legalization spreading across the country, that number is sure to increase.
There are a number of potential benefits of legalized sports betting, including increased tax revenue for state and local governments, greater transparency and regulation of the industry, and more opportunities for fan engagement. There are also some potential drawbacks to consider, such as the potential for increased gambling addiction and corruption in sporting events.
Regardless of how you feel about it, legalized sports betting is coming to a state near you – so it’s time to start learning about it!