Are Federal Legislative Changes Afoot in the US Regarding Gambling?

by Kyle Miller

Chris ChristieWith sports betting’s legality in question by the United States Supreme Court, are we about to see major changes to the gambling landscape across the nation?

The Christie vs. NCAA case has everyone talking these days as the United States Supreme Court sets to rule on whether or not the Professional & Amateur Sports Protection Act is unconstitutional. If the court rules in favor of New Jersey, it could mark significant changes to the gambling landscape of the US. Many are speculating that 2018 could be a big year for gaming legislative changes in the staets.

New Jersey Sports Betting Case

The case involving sports betting in New Jersey rests upon the ability to each state to have the right to choose whether or not they want to legalize the activity. Online gambling has been open in this regard for several years now, but sports betting is hindered by federal law, the PASPA.

In the US, states have been able to legalize online gaming if they so choose. The first to do so back in 2013 were New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada. Just last year, Pennsylvania passed legislation in October and should get started offering online gaming soon. The process has been slow going as legislators began by taking a ‘wait and see’ approach. Since last year, it seems lawmakers cannot seem to agree as to how gaming should be regulated and offered, which leads to a stall in passing a bill into law.

While online gaming is relatively new to the states, sports betting is not. Operators have been offering sports betting for decades and Nevada has been the only regulated option in that time frame. Lawmakers know that sports betting can bring in funds and many want in on the action, if SCOTUS rules in favor of New Jersey in the current case.

Online Casino and Poker Lose Ground

Since 2013, the focus has been on online casino and poker gaming. However, last year, a shift took place and most states were focusing on daily fantasy sports regulation and legislation. It seemed poker and casino gaming, the online variety, was put on the back burner so to speak. Towards the end of the year, another shift was made, this time regarding sports betting.

It seems now, the majority of legislators are focusing on sports betting. Many states are setting up or have set up legislation, so they can offer sports wagering if SCOTUS decides PASPA is unconstitutional. While the focus has shifted to sports betting, it could be that there is still room for online gaming as well.  Some legislators feel the two go hand in hand.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement Chairman David Rebuck has stated that he feels sports betting and online gaming will follow each other in every state. Rebuck feels that if his state wins the PASPA case, then the states that allow sports betting will also focus on online gaming, essentially providing two options in one go.

It would be a smart move by states as they would be offering several new gaming options, easily able to expand upon an existing gaming industry. Sports betting would mean big bucks as well as having it available online, plus with additional iGaming such as casino and poker games.

For now, we have to wait and see what the SCOTUS ruling will be regarding the Christie vs NCAA case and what changes it will bring about to the gaming industry in the United States as a whole. A decision may not come until summer, but in the meantime, we can watch as states make decisions based on potential outcomes.