Questions and answers regarding legalized sports betting in the United States

May 14, 2018 |

Supreme Court decisions are wrapped up in pages and pages of legalese, and Monday’s ruling in the New Jersey sports betting case is certainly no different. The court determined that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 was unconstitutional, which could lead to a wide expansion of legal, regulated, single-game sports betting in the United States.

But what does that mean to Joe Q. Public sports bettors in New Jersey and across the country? Following are questions and answers that clarify when and where you may be able to engage in sports betting.

When can I bet in New Jersey?

Perhaps as soon as two weeks from now. Monmouth Park already has a partnership with William Hill US, and there’s a sportsbook in place and all but ready for operation at the horse race venue. Dennis Drazin, CEO of Monmouth Park, noted there’s nothing legally preventing Monmouth from jumping in as early as this week, but there are some considerations to be made.

“We’re just trying to figure this out now,” Drazin said shortly after the Supreme Court decision was handed down. “Frankly, there’s nothing stopping us from starting now. We’re hoping two weeks from now, but if the Legislature or Gov. Murphy wants us to hold off, obviously we’ll do that.”

However, Drazin doesn’t foresee a long wait, albeit with a limited betting menu.

“Perhaps a limited number of ceremonial futures type of wagers,” he said, noting the first bet placed – and which luminary or political official places it – would fall in that category. “I may try to figure out something sooner than two weeks, a soft opening, maybe (offer) futures for the Super Bowl.”

Daniel Wallach, a well-regarded sports law attorney, also expects a quick turnaround as New Jersey works through recently drafted legislation.
“I think you’ll see a vote on it within a couple weeks,” Wallach said. “The New Jersey Legislature will move with alacrity, like their pants are on fire.”

What can I bet on in New Jersey?

The wagering options could ultimately be as boundless as they are in Nevada, but in the very near term, bettors could get action on the later rounds of the NBA and NHL playoffs. And as Drazin alluded to, Super Bowl futures, and presumably college football futures from there.

When will my state have sports betting?

A few states have already passed sports betting legislation, in anticipation of a positive outcome from the Supreme Court, and upwards of 20 other states are discussing legislation or have drafts in the pipeline. However, Wallach said when expansion comes to other states will depend on the dynamic that exists in each state.

So in 2019, he sees only a handful of states enjoying legal, regulated sports betting.

“I’d say seven. Maybe one more or one less,” Wallach said, specifically noting that West Virginia, Pennsylvania and particularly Mississippi are well-positioned. “Mississippi is going to be a big-time winner. You’ve got 30 casinos salivating over the prospect of operating sportsbooks. They’ll be operating this summer, by July or August.”

Delaware is also potentially well-positioned, but might have some state constitutional issues to work through to transition from its sports parlay lottery – a game of chance that’s allowed by the state constitution – to single-game sports wagering – deemed more a game of skill, which might violate the state’s constitution. New York, Illinois and Massachusetts are also ahead of the curve.

“Massachusetts is at the forefront,” Wallach said. “I’d expect Massachusetts to take a leadership position this year. The perfect storm is brewing in Massachusetts to get something done, perhaps this year.”

And as for any states beyond the aforementioned?

“States that have a constitution that prohibits sports betting won’t have it any time this year,” Wallach said. “They’ll have to put it on the ballot for voters, and if that’s approved, then legislatures will have to write up and approve legislation.”

That means a wait until at least 2019, if not longer. Furthermore, Wallach said Native American tribes that have compacts that grant exclusivity with states will also complicate matters. And of course there’s the whole integrity/royalty fee that major sports leagues are seeing.

“The broader battle between casinos and sports leagues over what the leagues will get may complicate or slow down bill passage,” Wallach said. “I think it’s a pretty steep climb to get to 10 states by the end of this year.”

Will I be able to bet online?

In New Jersey, that option won’t be immediately available, but should be in due time as the rollout goes forward. Again, Wallach said it will depend on where you are.

“New Jersey will have mobile as part of the new bill introduced,” Wallach said. “Before the end of the year, New Jersey will have land-based and mobile betting. Mississippi will be land-based. New York will have a combination of land and mobile.”

However, in all instances, a sportsbook must have a brick-and-mortar operation in order to offer online or mobile-app betting.

What does this mean for Nevada sports betting?

Assuredly, the expansion of sports betting will take some business from Nevada sportsbooks, as the Silver State is currently the only one in the nation to offer legal, regulated, single-game sports wagering. However, Nevada-based companies such as William Hill US and MGM Resorts, among others, are well-position to expand into locales such as New Jersey, Mississippi and beyond.

Further, it’s unlikely most other states will look to replicate the experience offered by many Nevada sportsbooks. People will still flock to Vegas for the Super Bowl, the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament and more, for the bucket-list experience of a huge-footprint sportsbook with massive giant screens, private viewing parties and more.

Patrick Everson is a Las Vegas-based senior writer for Covers. Follow him on Twitter: @Covers_Vegas.


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