Four Possibilities For SCOTUS Decision On PASAPA

Four Possibilities For SCOTUS Decision On PASAPA

The story dominating the airwaves in the sports betting world (and dominating the brainwaves of sports bettors themselves) is whether or not the U.S. Supreme Court will strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992.

Mercifully shortened to the acronym PASPA in most discourse on the subject of sports betting, the federal law is the most broadly powerful anti-gambling bill passed in the 20th century as it prohibits all but four states – Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon – from regulating wagering on sporting events. However, as nobody who even remotely follows these issues in the news can possibly not know about, the state of New Jersey is currently contesting the constitutionality of PASPA before the Supreme Court on the grounds that the law violates the Equal Sovereignty doctrine. While the majority of the betting public expects a favorable decision from the highest court in the land, it remains to be seen just how the Supreme Court, the state legislatures, the professional sports leagues and the established gambling operations will catch up with the times.

If PASPA is declared unconstitutional, the common view is that such a decision would effectively legalize sports betting nationwide, though numerous other possibilities exist, including a scenario in which only New Jersey is allowed to regulate sports wagering. It’s also entirely within the Supreme Court’s purview to uphold all its prior rulings and keep PASPA in place, shutting the door on any possibility for a legal US sports betting market. If that latter eventuality turns out to be the one the justices go with, it would leave American sports betting enthusiasts with no alternative but to continue patronizing offshore sportsbook sites that they’ve had to rely on for more than two decades, flouting federal law in the process.

Though nobody can say for sure exactly how this whole thing will go down, one thing is for sure: we don’t expect to have to wait long to find out. The Supreme Court could return a decision as soon as April 2, but almost no one is calling for a wait longer than the middle of this year before we know the official word on the future of sports betting in the United States. Accordingly, we’ll take a look at the four most likely outcomes of the SCOTUS decision on PASPA and provide insight as to what the fallout might be in each instance.

1. New Jersey gets permission to decriminalize sports betting, but other states get left out

The first option for the Supreme Court, as we see it, is for the justices to rule that PASPA is in fact constitutionally consistent while still allowing New Jersey to go ahead with decriminalization of sports betting – but not regulation. The Garden State passed a law to that effect in 2014, though it stopped short of authorizing gambling per se. Instead, New Jersey’s decriminalization effort would have made sports betting not explicitly illegal at casinos and racetracks.

If the SCOTUS ruling goes this way, established horse racing tracks like Monmouth Park will almost assuredly move toward offering sports betting for its customers and guests, and other independent operators could do the same. However, this means that casino operators with properties in other states would likely run into legal challenges if they tried to take action on sports outside of NJ.

2. PASPA is unconstitutional, but the states are only denied the ability to repeal sports betting bans

In this scenario, the Supreme Court decides PASPA is unconstitutional, but the states that want to enact sports betting regulatory legislation still find themselves unable to do so for a good while. Just like in the prior instance, if the various states looking to legalize sports betting can’t repeal their own individual sports betting laws (which almost all of them have to some degree or another) then they aren’t any better off materially speaking with a federal ban on legalization lifted. This is probably the least likely of the possibilities for a Supreme Court decision on PASPA

3. PASPA is unconstitutional, so NJ and other states that want to can regulate sports betting

This is the outcome most people in the sports betting world are hoping for, as this would mean it was open season for any kind of legalization the interested states have a desire to explore. With PASPA being declared broadly unconstitutional, that would also mean that the states that already have sports betting regulatory laws on the books just waiting for PASPA to be stricken from the rolls will take immediate effect. Naturally, any state that has these laws waiting in the wings stands to move forward without any kind of interference from the federal government. Honestly, there is about a 50 percent chance of this being the decision the SCOTUS decides to go with.

4. PASPA is still the law of the land and no state, not even NJ, can regulate sports betting

This final possible outcome is the most dreaded of all for the gambling industry and millions of American sports bettors who just want to do the right thing by using legal sports betting options. Fortunately for everybody in that camp, there is only a very narrow possibility of this scenario coming to pass, as the momentum of history seems to be against it. However, this is the kind of ruling the major professional sports leagues and the NCAA would love the most, and so far the Supreme Court has never ruled against the leagues when it comes to the question of broader legalization of sports betting.

If this is the decision the Supreme Court decides to go with, then there are two ways forward from here. On one hand, there won’t be any sports betting legalization for New Jersey or any of the other states that want it, and all the individual states that have already passed regulatory laws effectively wasted their time. On the other hand, USA online sportsbooks knows Congress itself could vote to repeal PASPA outright, which would have the same effect a blanket lifting of the law’s bans, but that could take ages and ages, given how slowly the federal lawmakers move on issue like this.