Taking a Gamble on Sports

In 1992, the federal law stated that states could not authorize betting on sports, but because of a new Supreme Court ruling, that has now changed.

Conner McMillan, Columnist

The Supreme Court has voted to allow states to authorize or ban sports gambling. This does not mean that it is legal in many states yet; it only gives the states the option to make it legal. The ruling passed as a 6-3 vote, with the reason being that it can increase tourism and tax revenue. The law was also allegedly violating constitutional rights by letting the federal government limit the ability of the states by forcing states to prohibit the betting on sports, according to Ariane de Vogue. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote that “the legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make.” Alito simply states here that the ability for people to be able to gamble on sports is up to the state government, not the federal government, since it more directly affects state economies over the entire national one.

Politicians and professionals have been sharing their ideas and opinions about the topic. Theodore Olson, a lawyer for New Jersey and former solicitor general for the Bush administration, wrote that the benefits of states making their own laws on this topic is more helpful than having the federal government making and enforcing laws on sports gambling. The controversy first started in 2011 when the case was first brought to the Supreme Court. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was trying to legalize sports gambling to become part of what some were saying to be a $150 billion illegal industry. For many years, the Supreme Court stood on their decision to keep it illegal because gambling in general is illegal, so they wanted it to apply to sport as well. Contrarily, when it was argued that the law was unconstitutional, they changed their decision.

While some companies seem optimistic towards the decision, others are a bit more cautious; the Major League Baseball released a statement saying the decision will have “profound effects” on the sport. The full effect that sports gambling will have is hard to predict. On one hand, it will bring more attention to sports and it could cause them to get more popular and make more money, like with fantasy football. On the other hand, it might cause more corruption in sports, and consequently a loss of viewers because of the increase in unfairness, like with the boxing cliche.

There are many sides to the debate. Ted Leonsis, CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, wrote, “I think that the increased transparency that will accompany more legalized betting around the country will only further protect against potential corruption.” His views can be backed by the idea of how, if betting is legal in every state, and therefore for every team, it will give the teams more encouragement to play the game over worrying about those betting on them losing money if they lose, causing a possibility for less corruption.

The sports industry could be heavily impacted by this passing. It’s possible that sports like baseball, basketball, and football would look even less at the integrity of the game than they do now and focus significantly more on the money-making opportunity of the game and be more susceptible to bribery. However, many think that it will have little to no impact on the sports, and it’s hard to tell what will happen.