In a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court claimed that the federal law passed in 1992, barring the action of betting on sports in most of the United States, was unconstitutional. The NCAA, NFL, and NBA had all been in favor of the non-legal sports betting world, but the Supreme Court decision now allows states to decide whether there will be legal authorization for sports betting. Even though the history of gambling is long and tumultuous, the backstory on sports betting only dates back a few hundred years.

What is the PASPA?

The practice of gambling has been around for a number of centuries, but sports gambling itself is just a few hundred years old. Since then, sports betting picked up its traction as a preferred way of gambling. Though, in 1992, the United States Congress decided to outlaw the practice of gambling on sports nationwide through the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act or PASPA.

PASPA was enacted to make it illegal for any person to promote, sponsor, advertise, and/or operate any such gambling on any competitive amateur or professional sports matches, according to the US Government Publishing Office.

Only four states were excluded from this law.

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Those four states were and still are Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Delaware. These states were exempt from the Act from their prior sports betting laws. States that operated licensed casinos for a previous ten-year period were also given a one-year timeframe to pass laws permitting sports wagering. Only one state, New Jersey, actually qualified for this permit but failed to accept. In the time since states have been attempting to make this type of gambling legal within their state again.

Everyday Americans gamble on sports with nearly all of it being illegal through bookmakers or websites that have operations outside of the United States. Offshore websites make it nearly impossible for the U.S. Government to act on them or shut them down. Making sports gambling illegal has created a thriving underground market with no control nor any regulations.

Legal sports betting is good for America.

Just like all lotteries, another form of gambling, winnings from bets placed on sporting events are taxed in the states where it runs legal.

Billions of dollars are collected each year from sports wagers all over the U.S. even though many are illegal. For anyone of the four states that have it legalized, after paying their winners and the bookies, the state government is still left with hundreds of millions left in tax revenue.

Opponents argue that the leftover money would not cause a noticeable growth in annual revenue, therefore not a big enough change.

All states have underserved priorities that any additional revenue could go towards. But as said before, most of these bets are being placed illegally. Those opponents also say lack of defense, organized crime, and match-fixing are far too risky to allow it to be authorized. Opposers will tell them that it was their own fault for taking that risk because it is prohibited by law anyways.

Organized crimes are not limited to individuals, but entire sports leagues too. Leagues stay hesitant to back sports gambling for legalization due to the lingering possibility of match-fixing scandals. Though studies have found little evidence of any real signs of this since PASPA was enacted.

Proponents for the legalization and regulation of betting on sports nationwide believe the opportunity could create extra state revenue, discourage illegal, fraudulent, and organized gambling crimes, and create a less likelihood of any match-fixing within the professional sports leagues.

Additional revenue to the state

Taxed winnings on sports wagers can spawn additional revenue for the states that go for legalization. That’s billions for each individual state government, not just the federal government. Democratic state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, sponsor of the New Jersey sports betting legislation struck down by a federal court in 2015, quoted estimates that legalized sports wagering in New Jersey may be able to rake in up to $1.3 billion in annual gross revenues and $120 million in tax revenue for the state of New Jersey.

Additionally, a June Gallup Poll says that nearly two-thirds of Americans gamble in some fashion. 15 percent of them placed a bet in an office pool. Ten percent and five percent bet on professional and college sports respectively. A person can place a bet online, through a bookmaker or even a workplace pool, but all in all, it adds up.

“Overall, AGA’s estimate found that Americans wagered $149 billion on sports in 2015, up from nearly $145 billion in 2014,” according to the American Gambling Association.

Lucy Dadayan who is a senior policy analyst at the Albany-based Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government says, “Gambling revenues represent just 2.0 to 2.5 percent of state general revenues, excluding federal aid. Any additional tax revenue from legalized sports betting would be tiny.”

Instead of playing it down, they should advocate for increased revenue going into the government. Isn't that a priority of the modern United States government? This would not just add money to the state’s government budget but it would bring a considerable chunk of illegal betting from the underground ring that it lives in. This lowers the likelihood of any illegal and fraudulent crimes.

Illegal sports betting equals similar organized crime.

With placing a bet on any sporting event legally allowed in only eight percent of the United States, many times wagerers place their bets on offshore websites or bookmakers who relay to those websites. Because of this, the person placing the wager put themselves at risk of being a victim of gambling crimes. A person can give these websites access to their money and by chance not receive their earnings. Thus becoming helpless with it already prohibited. Opponents argue that is a chance that the wagerer is willing to take when acting in outlawed habits. When it is done illegally, winners and bookies also avoid paying taxes on their winnings.

The American Gambling Association calls for a repeal on the current sports gambling bans and instead construct regulations to new laws.

“Similar to other financial services, a well-regulated jurisdiction such as one would expect in an American setting would protect customers through such audited requirements as maintenance of minimum cash reserves or the keeping of clients’ money in a separate account from that of the business. A national or state portal would also be more familiar to bettors, avoiding the need for them to assess which websites might be fraudulent.”

Regulations could remove the riskiness involved with the underground, offshore crimes that happen every day. The only things challengers say is that regulations would take time to implement and it would demand a team of varied career fields.

“If [legal] sports betting grew as predicted, you'd have to grow the infrastructure to regulate it, and that means regulators, lawyers, judges, investigators,” says Mike Fagan, a former assistant U.S. attorney in St. Louis who prosecuted offshore sports betting.

Organized crimes include match-fixing.

Additionally, the legalization and regulation of sports betting can slight any opportunity of match-fixing scandals. When PASPA became active starting in 1992, all pro sports leagues backed the Act as they thought it protected aspects such as match-fixing. Match-fixing happens when an inside job predetermines or manipulates the results of a game by a player, coach, top organization official, and/or a referee. One study from Las Vegas shows no signs of such.

The study by a Las Vegas consulting firm in 2000 found “only 0.01 percent of games across 12 U.S. sports from 1990 to 2000 showed signs of unusual wagering,” according to ESPN.

If a single game is getting high wagers by an abnormal number of bettors, that could be considered "unusual wagering." Studies within a decade of the introduction of PASPA show that evidence of match-fixing is few and far between. Leagues such as the NHL think it would be better to be safe than sorry.

Pro sports leagues have rules and harsh penalties that restrict their players, college, and pros, from participating in any sports gambling and/or daily fantasy sports. Sports leagues have made it an effort to stay out of Las Vegas due to its legality of sports wagering. But in recent years, the NFL and its owners approved to let the Oakland Raiders relocate to Vegas. And in June 2016 the NHL awarded an expansion franchise to the city of Las Vegas to enter the league in 2017, the highly successful Las Vegas Golden Knights.

The NFL’s senior labor relations attorney Brook Gardiner said a “strong contingent in the league” is examining sports betting, “but it’s not unanimous.” Likewise, if NHL Commissioner Bettman had a concern would he really have let Las Vegas end up with a team in his league over the runner-up of Quebec City, Quebec, who has already had an NHL team before? The only two major professional sports leagues that still presently have hesitated over nationwide legalized sports gambling are pursuing their leagues into the Gambling Capital of the U.S.A. Also, with the salaries of today's athletes in the millions, the athletes do not have a reason to manipulate the games for outside gamblers or make their own bets.

According to Spotrac, the highest salaries in the MLB and NBA are $30+ million. In the NFL it's $27 million, and $14 million in the NHL, also according to Spotrac. Professional sports leagues have changed their views on sports betting giving it an open mind and have gone as far as giving Las Vegas their only professional team. Anyways, Las Vegas sports betting is just a narrow slice in the state's gambling revenue, Nevada’s sports betting revenue in 2015 was just over 2.1 percent of their total gambling revenue.

Gambling will never go away in the United States. And sports gambling will always be a part of that. With legalized sports wagering nationally, sports gambling has the probability to produce additional state revenue, get rid of illegal, fraudulent, and organized gambling crimes, and create a less of a chance of match-fixing within the professional sports leagues and instead strengthen the integrity of the games.

Additional revenue into a state government would open up opportunities for new educational projects in underserved areas or other special state projects that could profit. Along with the addition of new government funds, it would give the underground ring no market for this type of gambling. This lowers the likeness of any illegal and fraudulent crimes. Regulations diminish the riskiness involved with the offshore gambling crimes that occur daily. Also, the legalization and regulation of sports betting will diminish match-fixing conspiracies. Studies since the government implemented PASPA show that evidence of match-fixing is infrequent.

The two major professional sports leagues that presently hold back on sports gambling are putting their leagues in pursuit of Las Vegas. The leagues seem to have changed their views on the subject to a ‘for it’ position. And now the United States accepts it too.

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