Reactions to U.S. Supreme Court Legalizing Sports Betting

Reactions to Legal Sports Betting in United States

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 25-year old sports betting law which gave a few states unconstitutional advantages.

Yesterday’s announcement that the U.S. Supreme Court had struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) brought an outpouring of statements. Important government officials, gaming lawyers, bookmaker directors, sports executives, pro athletes, and average Twitter users all had something to say about the advent of legal sports betting across 50 states.

U.S. Poker Sites has compiled a big list of quotes and public statements by people interested in the Supreme Court decision to legalize sports betting. Much is still left to be determined, including which states will legalize sports betting and whether integrity fees will be included.

In fact, the U.S. Congress could ban sports betting in all 50 states, if it wanted to. That is a small possibility, but Sam Alito’s opinion gives that option. It is highly unlikely the will exists in Congress to overcome the opposition that would entail, both from existing and expectant sports betting states.

For now, it is a time to celebrate the expansion of sports betting across the land. Experts disagree on how many states will legalize sports betting, but it could be as many as 25 to 30, if one person on the following list is to be believed.

What Bookmakers Said of Murphy v. NCAA Decision

Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill USA, said, “The U.S. market is going to open up.”

Itai Freiburger, the CEO of 888 Holdings, said, “888 has been keeping a very close eye on regulatory developments in the US and welcomes today’s announcement as an important step forward in the potential regulation of the US market. The potential for sports betting in the US is significant and, as the only operator in all three regulated US states*, we believe 888 is uniquely positioned to exploit the potential growth opportunities in the US market that today’s ruling opens up.”

Jay Kornegay, VP of Race and Sports Operations at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, the largest sportsbook in Las Vegas, said of the new era for US sports betting, “We’re not looking to have a big piece of the pie, but we’re certainly looking to have a slice of it. Vaccaro, an oddsmaker at South Point Hotel, said he expects to be part of negotiations with stakeholders around the country but companies such as MGM, with casinos in several states, are best positioned to capitalize on the Supreme Court’s ruling.”

“It will be a lot easier for them only because they already have the place to go to. We will basically be auditioning and go from there. A Las Vegas sports book works on a very slim margin and its the lowest hold percentage of any casino game offered. Not to mention it’s very expensive to operate. The potential operators out there really need to understand not only how a book operates, but also the financials of a book before they put any kind of legislation together.”

Kornegay added, “Sports betting has always had this dark cloud over it. A lot of people associate it with organized crime, but over the last couple of years the climate has really changed dramatically. That dark cloud has been lightened, and could soon go away.”

Many US states have signaled a willingness to get involved in legal sports betting. 20 states signed West Virginia’s amicus brief supporting New Jersey’s case before the US Supreme Court. 18 states have sports betting bills being discussed in state legislatures. Still, Jay Kornegay said those states must be in a preliminary phase, because few have spoken to Nevada lawmakers. Kornegay said, “It’s a tightly run ship in Las Vegas. It’s confusing to me that we haven’t seen more inquiries from other jurisdictions on how to regulate betting. They should understand how the books in Nevada operate.”

Jimmy Vaccaro, the sportsbook operator at the South Point Hotel, said yesterday’s announcement was a special day for bookmakers, handicappers, and mass market sports bettors. Vaccaro said, “People like me have been waiting 35 years for this to happen. For a 72-year-old bookmaker it’s special in a very personal way.”

Vaccaro warned would-be bookmakers that sports betting is the hardest of all gaming operations to make a profit on. He said most legal bookmakers only collect 4% to 4.5% of turnover each year — and the house doesn’t always win. Vaccaro also said states will have to settle various legal issues before launching regulated and licensed sportsbooks, “It’s a gigantic step but there are so many more issues still to be handled.”

Gaming Operators on End of PASPA Federal Ban

The Pechanga Tribe of California released a statement which said, “We view sports betting as a potential amenity that would complement our numerous offerings. Now that the Court has ruled, we look forward to engaging in a conversation with fellow tribal leaders, policymakers, and industry stakeholders to see if there is a path forward for sports betting in California.”

Geoff Freeman, CEO of the American Gaming Association, said states should follow the Nevada model for sports betting: “There’s no need to reinvent the wheel as we go into all of these states. Nevada is a functioning market….Most of those that are operating in Las Vegas today are operating in other markets around the country. I can assure you that those companies are excited about the possibility of bringing their expertise into these other markets as they consider sports betting.”

The Nevada Gaming Control Board echoed Geoff Freeman’s words, saying in a press release, “For decades, Nevada has been the only jurisdiction to offer a full range of sports betting options to the public. Nevada has proven that our model is not only successful, but stands the test of time. In the coming months, as individual states decide whether or not to authorize legalized sports betting, and embark on establishing their own regulatory frameworks, the Nevada Gaming Control Board looks forward to acting as a resource and sharing our model with other jurisdictions.”

Daily Fantasy Sports on Legalized Sports Betting

Jason Robins, CEO of DraftKings, said of the decision, “Our mission has always been to bring fans closer to the sports they love and now, thanks to the wisdom of the Supreme Court, DraftKings will be able to harness our proven technology to provide our customers with innovative online sports betting products. This ruling gives us the ability to further diversify our product offerings and build on our unique capacity to drive fan engagement.”

FanDuel is an early indication of the impact legal sports betting might have on the global gaming industry. Already, Paddy Power-Betfair is rumored to be ready to buy out FanDuel, DraftKing’s main rival in the daily fantasy sports category. FanDuel said in a statement, “The Supreme Court’s decision, which paves the way for states to legalize sports betting, creates an enormous opportunity for FanDuel as our platform, brand, and customer base provide a unique and compelling foundation to meaningfully participate. At our core, we’re a business that makes sports more exciting. In the same way we revolutionized fantasy sports, we will bring innovation to the sports betting space. This decision allows us to bring the passion and engagement we have seen among our users to new and expanded marketplaces and create a sports betting product that fans will love. FanDuel is and will continue to be the premier mobile destination for every sports fan.”

NFL, NBA, MLB on Supreme Court Decision

The NFL issued a statement upon hearing the news. That statement focused on the integrity of sports, “The NFL’s long-standing and unwavering commitment to protecting the integrity of our game remains absolute. Congress has long-recognized the potential harms posed by sports betting to the integrity of sporting contests and the public confidence in these events. Given that history, we intend to call on Congress again, this time to enact a core regulatory framework for legalized sports betting. We also will work closely with our clubs to ensure that any state efforts that move forward in the meantime protect our fans and the integrity of our game.”

During the annual NFL owners meeting in March, Commissioner Roger Goodell gave a presentation on the possibility of legal sportsbooks in American. At the time, one anonymous NFL owner told ESPN: “Nothing was resolved on this. Mostly a heads-up message. We need to be prepared for the possible change in the law; here is what the NBA does; this is the way the Premier League deals with gambling. More discussion to follow at future league meetings.”

Major League Baseball issued a statement which said, “Today’s decision by the Supreme Court will have profound effects on Major League Baseball. As each state considers whether to allow sports betting, we will continue to seek the proper protections for our sport, in partnership with other professional sports. Our most important priority is protecting the integrity of our games. We will continue to support legislation that promotes air-tight coordination and partnerships between the state, the casino operators, and the governing bodies in sports toward that goal.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who long has supported a federal regulatory framework for sports betting, said in a press release, “Today’s decision by the Supreme Court opens the door for states to pass laws legalizing sports betting. We remain in favor of a federal framework that would provide a uniform approach to sports gambling in states that choose to permit it, but we will remain active in ongoing discussions with state legislatures. Regardless of the particulars of any future sports betting law, the integrity of our game remains our highest priority.”

Dan Spillane, assistant general counsel to the NBA, said last month at a Connecticut state hearing about the possibility of sports wagering, told lawmakers, “Betting is built on our games. If there’s a scandal, something that tarnishes the image of the game, that’s going to be a cost borne by the sports leagues.”

What Sports Players Said about Legal US Sports Betting

Major League Baseball’s Players Association said in a statement, “The Court’s decision is monumental, with far-reaching implications for baseball players and the game we love. From complex intellectual property questions to the most basic issues of players safety, the realities of widespread sports betting must be addressed urgently and thoughtfully to avoid putting our sport’s integrity at risk as states proceed with legalization.”

The NFL Players Association also released a statement. The players emphasized a combination of player safety and game integrity, while also hinting they might send players to discuss the implications of sports betting with federal and state lawmakers. The NFLPA statement read: “The Supreme Court’s decision today reaffirms our decision to collaborate with the other sports unions on the issues of player safety, integrity of our games and privacy and publicity rights. Our union will monitor developments closely and address the implications of this decision with the NFL, state legislators and other relevant stakeholders.”

The NBA Players Association said, “Today’s decision by the Supreme Court will significantly impact our sport — indeed, all sports in this country. The NBPA will, often in conjunction with the other sports unions, work to ensure that our players’ rights are protected and promoted as we venture into this new territory.”

Former NFL player Marcellus Wiley tweeted: “??…It’s on now!!! ???? Supreme Court strikes down federal law prohibiting sports gambling – via @ESPN App.”

Supreme Court Justices on Sports Betting

Justice Sam Alito: “That provision unequivocally dictates what a state legislature may and may not do. State legislatures are put under the direct control of Congress. It is as if federal officers were installed in state legislative chambers and were armed with the authority to stop legislators from voting on any offending proposals. A more direct affront to state sovereignty is not easy to imagine. Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg: “The Court wields an ax to cut down [the provision] instead of using a scalpel to trim the statute. Shorn of the provision on modifying or repealing state law, Congress permissibly exercised is authority to regulate commerce by instructing States and private parties to refrain from operating sports-gambling schemes.”

What US Lawmakers Said about Legal Sportsbooks

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who led the challenge to PASPA, tweeted after the decision was announced, “A great day for the rights of states and their people to make their own decisions. New Jersey citizens wanted sports gambling and the federal Gov’t had no right to tell them no. The Supreme Court agrees with us today. I am proud to have fought for the rights of the people of NJ.”

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-New Jersey), a longtime proponent of expanded gambling in New Jersey, said of the decision: “ASPA was clearly unconstitutional, and the ban on sports betting has now rightfully been rejected by the court,” he said. “I have long believed that New Jersey should have the opportunity to proceed with sports betting.”

Gov. Phil Murphy, the current governor of New Jersey, spoke of the bipartisan effort politicians from his state showed to win this case, “New Jersey has long been the lead advocate in fighting this inherently unequal law, and today’s ruling will finally allow for authorized facilities in New Jersey to take the same bets that are legal in other states in our country. Today’s victory would not have been possible without the incredible bipartisan effort from so many in our state, particularly former Governor Christie and former state Senator [Raymond] Lesniak.”

Rep. Leonard Lance (R-New Jersey) praised the court, pointing to its embrace of states rights: “Today the Supreme Court struck down the entire federal law, rightfully giving states the freedom to act on their own.”

State Sen. John Bonacic (D-NY), a longtime supporter of gambling expansion who recently announced his coming retirement, touted his sports betting legislation in the New York state legislature. Bonacic said, “New York has been preparing for this moment since as far back as 2013 and we have remained proactive in anticipation of this decision by the Court. The Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee held a public hearing in January that brought together stakeholders from across the gaming spectrum to discuss this issue in depth. Since that time, I have introduced legislation that has passed committee and continued to have productive discussions regarding the issue. I am confident that working together with my colleagues in both the Senate and Assembly, we can have a bill ready for Governor’s signature by the end of the session.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah): “At stake here is the very integrity of sports. That’s why I plan to introduce legislation in the coming weeks to help protect honesty and principle in the athletic arena.”

Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nevada) said in a statement, “Today the Supreme Court has affirmed states rights when it comes to sports betting and opened the door for regulated sports betting in states across the country. A regulated market is always better than an unregulated one. As the representative for Las Vegas I have seen the success of the booming, regulated sports betting market in Nevada. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act has spawned a $150 billion annual illegal sports betting market that lacks consumer protections, is ripe for manipulation, fuels other illicit activities, and jeopardizes the integrity of sports leagues.”

Gaming Writers on New Jersey’s Sports Betting Victory

Chris Grove, managing director at Eilers & Kreik Gaming, said the legal market will be huge. Grove said, “The black market is about 20 percent of the size that a properly regulated market would be. There is a lot of money on the sidelines right now.”

Tim Dahlberg wrote in the Las Vegas Sun, “Sports betting is about ready to explode across the nation, thanks to the collective wisdom of the justices on the Supreme Court. Their ruling that states are now free to offer sports betting means it may soon be as easy to bet a $20 parlay in some states as it is to order pizza on the phone. Almost as important for some, it also wipes away the final stigma on an industry that Vaccaro has made both his occupation and his life.”

Daniel Wallach, a sports and gaming attorney at Becker & Poliakoff is quoted in the New York Times and Washington Post on sports betting and PASPA, said of the decision, “Today’s decision will ultimately transform that way we watch and consume sports. This is more than just about sports betting and federalism. It will be a game changer for how sports is marketed, consumed and watched.”

CNBC Sports Business Reporter Eric Chemi predicted 25 to 30 US states would have legalized sports betting, though he predicted each state would have its own unique laws. Chemi said, “The Supreme Court said that federal law was unconstitutional. Either Congress has to say that none of the states can do sports gambling or Congress can do nothing and let every state do whatever they want. But they can’t have this thing where they grandfathered in Nevada, and let no one else do it. They do leave open the possibility that, if Congress wants to come in and ban sports betting across the country, they (Congress) actually could that.”

What People Said on Twitter about Legal Sports Gambling

Jeff Darlington: “I realize this sports gambling decision is making a lot of people happy, but let’s not forget you prob have an old buddy named Franky, who has been running a sports book since freshman year of college, and he’s about to get swallowed up by casinos. Keep Franky in your thoughts.”

Jay Busby: “Tailgates just got about five thousand percent more interesting.”

Jared Dudley: “Need a Vegas team ASAP!”

Tom Fornelli: “To any bookie I may or may not have had financial dealings with over the years, let’s not worry about what tomorrow holds for our relationship, let’s just cherish the moments we have together now.”

Farmer Jones: “Hi gambling legal or otherwise is generally bad and you probably shouldn’t do it thank you.”

Madison Hartman: “Honestly, who can even afford gambling.”

Dan Devine: “brb, going to go become rich gambling on sports.”

Kevin McGuire: “With gambling now legalized, if Sim City has taught me anything, we’re going to need to build more police departments near our industrial zones and airports. Maybe build a few more parks too.”

Carson Cunningham: “Sports gambling! Thanks Jersey!”