The Supreme Court Deliberates over Sports Gambling

Across the world people are able to bet on sports from Horse Racing to Football to sports as obscure as Kabaddi from their couch. All you need to bet nowadays is the phone in your pocket and an app downloaded from Google Play or the App Store. It is possible to place bets on all manner of different outcomes from scores, to who the scorers will be to things like how many times a player will touch the ball or how much overtime there will be in a match. It has never been easier to bet on sport and the range of what you can put your money on is astounding.

That is, unless you live in the United States of America. The country has always had a very odd relationship with gambling and gambling law. If you think about casinos one of the first places that pops into anyone’s head is Sin City itself: Las Vegas. The bright lights, the pristine poker tables and the ability to make a fortune in a single night. The glamour of places like Las Vegas can only really be recreated by websites like which allow you the opportunity to play online as if you are in Nevada’s most famous city. With gambling laws in the United States being so nebulous playing online is one of the best ways to enjoy the pleasure of winning money without worrying about falling foul of regulations.

Juxtaposed with the world’s gambling capital is the fact that betting on sports in the United States is only allowed in Las Vegas. A country that for so long has been associated with freedom to make decisions and giving people choice has denied sports fans outside of Vegas the opportunity to back their favourite sports stars with their hard earned money. This has led to New Jersey, appealing to the Supreme Court to get this decision overturned. According to, there are a number of sides all interested and with a big stake in the debate.

On the one hand you have the state of New Jersey and other state governments who are all appealing to one of the fundamental principles of the United States, that of the devolution of power to the states. New Jersey governor Chris Christie has appealed to the fact that the constitution has always leaned towards giving individual states the right to make decisions on issues like these. Whether states regulate sports betting, Christie and others have argued, should be their decision to make rather than the federal governments. It is a very old argument that is being rehashed with a new topic.

Seeking to continue the ban on sports gambling first enshrined as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA,) are a group of rather strange bedfellows, the main US professional sports leagues the NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB alongside the US President Donald Trump. Trump has been at loggerheads with the leagues particularly the NFL and NBA over their stars protests against injustice in the United States. However on this issue they both agree that sports betting should remain outlawed outside of Vegas. This despite the fact that an estimated $150 billion annually is gambled illegally on sports in the United States.

The Trump administration feel that lifting the ban would encourage people to gamble and create the kinds of issues that are associated with gambling addiction. The leagues are also worried about the integrity of their sports, there have been a number of notable match fixing scandals in high profile sports like tennis, soccer and cricket as well as Horse Racing which has made some worry that sports can be influenced by people other than the competitors.

Whatever happens it has important ramifications for betting on Horse Racing, while it is not banned like betting on sports like football or baseball, it remains tightly regulated but this ruling could change that. It seems like the court may well be split with the more conservative justices seeking to rule in favourite of the states and get rid of the ban and the more liberal justices will siding with the federal government. Ironically, new justice Neil Gorsuch, who was appointed by Trump, may well have the casting vote and with his conservative leanings may well vote against the Trump administration.