Monday was a good day for gamblers. Historic, in fact, since the Supreme Court overturned the outdated and ill-conceived 1992 law known as PASPA, the federally mandated Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which prohibited all but four states from allowing legal sports wagers.
The nation’s highest court deemed the law unconstitutional, much to the delight of those known to enjoy placing a wager or two on their favorite pastime. It was also welcome news for many states across the country who long ago realized the idiocy of PASPA and are ready to reap the rewards of an established, fully integrated, and easily accessible sports gambling enterprise for its residents. Maybe even one professional sports league.
Yes, Monday’s very important and eagerly anticipated decision officially paves the way for this country to get with the times. It will allow you to legally, safely, and securely place a wager on a single game of baseball, basketball, football, hockey, soccer, or whatever else is going on that you’re interested in the way millions of other people in far more progressive countries have been doing for years.
That’s good, fantastic. Any of the moral naysayers who believe we just opened Pandora’s box can politely shut the fuck up today and take this L. But as giddy as veteran sports gamblers and a ton of wannabes anxious to get in on the action are over the news, we need to throw a little cold water on the situation because things ain’t changing overnight. And for many in the United States, nothing’s changing anytime soon, if at all.
In a perfect world, you could march down to the corner store where you can also play the lottery and put some money on one of the nine scheduled games in Major League Baseball today. Or, if you were lucky enough to score tickets to Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, you could use a machine inside an arena like they do in Europe. Even better, you could do it on your phone and connect to a server not based in some Central American country that’s been set up to skirt all kinds of laws and regulations and help aspects of the underground and organized crime rackets thrive.
But that’s not yet a reality.
We’re all for keeping things above the board. But when the offshore books and local oddsmakers have been doing things their way for years—and millions of Americans have had no problem using them to get their gambling fix on—we’re a little skeptical that states will set up their own enterprises without major hiccups and holdups.
WHERE CAN YOU WAGER LEGALLY?
As of right now, only one state has the infrastructure in place to take wagers within the next few weeks—despite plenty of states enacting laws to allow for legalized sports gambling depending on the SCOTUS decision—and that’s New Jersey, the original plaintiff in the case brought before the Supreme Court. Reportedly, New Jersey could have something set up at Monmouth Race Track in a few weeks. And you’re going to have to be in the actual state to place a wager.
Other states that have expressed their support for the repeal of the PASPA and months ago passed laws that would enable them to install the infrastructure for a sports gambling enterprise might be years away from getting their system off the ground, allowing the underground to do its thing.
Even though New Jersey deserves all the praise for basically getting PASPA overturned and paving the way for legalizing sports gambling across the country, there will be stupid restrictions. Reportedly, gamblers won’t be allowed to place wagers on games involving state universities. So if you’re in the Garden State and you’re hyped to see Michigan destroy Rutgers by at least 27 points on the gridiron, you’re out of luck, pal. Expect that type of regulatory nonsense to crop up in other states further suppressing everyone’s good time.
ARE THE LEAGUES SUPPORTIVE?
As for the leagues themselves, their complaining about the dangers of legalized sports wagering isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Legalizing it will weed out corruption and attempts at disrupting the integrity of the game that moral frauds like the NFL continue to whine about. More regulation, more oversight, and closer scrutiny of betting patterns naturally allows for outliers to be recognized and shenanigans to be stomped out. The NFL knows this. So do the other leagues. Meanwhile, the NFL owes its popularity in large part to gambling, and the league that’s about to relocate the Raiders to Las Vegas should have been a proponent of gambling a long time ago.
The NFL will only get on board once they figure out a way to get a piece of the pie because it’s always about the dollar with them. That’s why the NBA, the league that has actually been the biggest proponent of legalized sports gambling, are asking states for a 1% “integrity fee.” Without spending too much time explaining the ins and outs of what an integrity fee actually boils down to, just know it’s a complete bullshit way for the leagues to get their hands on a revenue source they’ve secretly lusted over for decades.
SO WHAT'S NEXT?
There’s a lot to sort out in the wake of the momentous decision by the Supreme Court. Seamlessly integrating legalized sports gambling across America was never going to be easy and, real talk, was never portrayed by anyone as such. But know that hopefully in a few years, it’s going to be much easier for all of us to do what we all knew was going on anyway.
Hopefully this also means the stigma attached to those of us who like to get in on the action can die a slow and painful death. The jokes about the degenerates—and there are plenty out there who legitimately have a problem with gambling that they should seek help for—will continue, but SCOTUS let it be known that the United States is dismounting it’s moral high horse and that should be celebrated. America is far too prudish on a number of social issues, gambling on sports among the most ridiculous of them when you consider how widely accepted it is in Europe and how many Americans are in favor of its legalization. States can soon reap badly needed tax dollars from sports gambling profits and in short order we’ll laugh at the absurdity that it was ever outlawed in the first place.
But in the immediate aftermath of Monday, nothing’s changing. If you want to take the Rockets -1.5 tonight against the Warriors, unless you’re in Las Vegas, guess where you’re going to lay the points? Somewhere in the Caribbean, with some mob-associated bookie, or dialing up some hotshot running a small-time neighborhood book. They’re here to stay because they offer credit while our government tries to get its collective shit together for the good of the people.