PASPA declared “unconstitutional” in landmark Supreme Court ruling

The Supreme Court has opened the door to sports betting in the US, after overturning the longstanding Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

The decision comes after the state of New Jersey, led by former governor Chris Christie, moved to challenge PASPA’s federal mandate at Supreme Court level back in December.

Five months on, in a 49-page legal summary, the Supreme Court made the following judgement: “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.  PASPA is not. PASPA “regulate[s] state governments’ regulation” of their citizens, New York, 505 US, at 166. The Constitution gives Congress no such power. The judgment of the Third Circuit is reversed.”

New Jersey has already been preparing for such a favourable outcome and could be in a position to take the first legal bets at its casinos and racetracks in the next couple of weeks. As many as 25 other states are likely to follow suit as soon as legislative time allows.

Reacting to the decision, Geoff Freeman, President of the American Gaming Association (AGA) said: “Today’s ruling makes it possible for states and sovereign tribal nations to give Americans what they want: an open, transparent, and responsible market for sports betting.

“Through smart, efficient regulation this new market will protect consumers, preserve the integrity of the games we love, empower law enforcement to fight illegal gambling, and generate new revenue for states, sporting bodies, broadcasters and many others.

“The AGA stands ready to work with all stakeholders – states, tribes, sports leagues, and law enforcement – to create a new regulatory environment that capitalises on this opportunity to engage fans and boost local economies.”