Foreword: The Supreme Court of the United States (Scotus) recently overturned PASPA of 1992 (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) which limited sports betting activity to a handful of US states, notably Nevada, Delaware, Montana, and Oregon. The law protected sports betting in these states, courtesy of grandfathered clauses. However, there was scant sports betting activity in all states with the exception of Nevada which gained a virtual monopoly on the industry.
The veritable ban on sports betting activity across the United States resulted in US sports bettors taking their business offshore. Foreign-based bookmakers enjoyed the limitations placed on the US sports betting industry by the authorities. Contrary to opinion, federal intervention in sports betting served only to limit government’s ability to regulate the industry and benefit from reaping significant tax revenues.
Changes in The US Sports Betting Industry
New Jersey successfully petitioned against PASPA, claiming that it infringed upon the state’s rights to offer legal sports betting. The anti-commandeering principle was invoked, and the Supreme Court of the United States agreed. Thanks to New Jersey’s tireless efforts, legislation has now been passed in several US states, including Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Delaware, with pending legislation in multiple states across the nation. Billions of dollars per annum is wagered on sports, and that figure is set for substantial growth.
As with any hot topic issue, there are proponents and opponents of regulated sports betting in the United States. From the operator side, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is vehemently opposed to online gambling activity in its entirety. He fears that his casino resorts in the US will suffer if lobbying groups are unable to petition lawmakers against online gambling. In this vein, a pyrrhic victory occurred with the recent Department of Justice opinion that online gambling in the US is illegal.
There are mixed opinions from sports leagues about how best to broach the topic. The pro football league AAF (Alliance of American Football) recently weighed in on in-game sports betting, after the Scotus decision which enabled sports betting outside of Nevada. Already, MGM which has exclusive licensing rights for the sports gaming technology employed by AAF is hard at work crafting sports betting technology. Play-by-play gambling activity is in the works in the US, indicating that there is interest in sports betting with professional sports leagues.
Consider the NBA, NFL & NASCAR Positions on Legalized Sports Betting
- The NBA has adopted many stances on the issue of sports betting in the US. However, the professional basketball league has always been an ardent supporter of legalized betting in the US. The primary concern for professional sports leagues in the US is how best to maintain the integrity of the sport when betting activity is permitted. The NBA is also interested in being a beneficiary of sports betting activity, with proposals being floated about commissions of 1% + being paid to the league. This proposal was known as an integrity fee and it would be paid to the NBA and to the teams individually.
- The NFL has been somewhat reluctant to get on board with legalized sports betting, although many of the franchise owners are active participants in daily fantasy sports betting. Like the NBA, the NFL is looking to increase its revenues through sports betting activity by taking a cut of all wagers placed. Once again, the NFL Commissioner is focused on how best to maintain the integrity of the NFL once sports betting goes mainstream.
- Another major American sport, NASCAR, is also being impacted by sports betting activity. According to one of the NASCAR heavyweights, Brendan Gaughan, betting on sports could shine the spotlight on NASCAR and that would be good for the industry. However, NASCAR has been slow to embrace legalized sports betting in the US and is more interested in firing up the crowds to attend NASCAR races and support the sport. The idea of in-race betting opportunities is particularly alluring to NASCAR and is likely to gain traction with fans over time.
What Is the Best Way to Monetize Sports Betting?
That is the proverbial million-dollar question that US sports leagues are grappling over as we speak. What is interesting to note is that some 64% of Americans are satisfied with regulated sports betting activity. Despite the best efforts of prohibition groups like the Coalition To Stop Internet Gambling, Scotus pushed forward to overturn PASPA. This bodes well for advocates of regulated sports betting.
A new report regarding regulated sports betting conducted on 886 Americans across the spectrum found that some 75% of respondents were in favor of legal online sports betting. Among the top reasons cited by these respondents were claims that legalized sports betting would support individual states with additional revenues (65% agree), while 81% of respondents prefer online sports betting to in-person sports betting.
Sports betting advocates believe that if the federal government decides to ban all sports betting, the industry would simply go underground and become a $150 billion-a-year industry. Besides, most bettors in the US prefer regulated betting to unregulated betting. The economy as a whole can benefit immeasurably from a hands-off approach by the Feds. The NBA and the NFL may be in favor of a 1% commission to give the green light to regulate sports betting but there is no ideal framework envisioned by all leagues and professional sports associations. Since the legislation is currently in flux, it will take time to thrash out a nationwide framework that gets everyone to sign on.