Sports Betting Spreads Like Wildfire Across US

As of the beginning of August 2019, there are 11 states in America with full-scale legalized sports betting. In addition, another seven states have passed bills and are in the process of launching their sports wagering models.

Moreover, there are 26 more states with sports betting bills under consideration.

Out of 50 states plus Washington, D.C., only seven states have yet to introduce a piece of legislation to legalize and regulate sports betting.

Meanwhile, there is no single-event sports betting in Canada.

Impetus for Legalization

It was in May 2018 that the United States Supreme Court set it all into motion with a single ruling.

The case was instigated by the state of New Jersey.

Then-Governor Chris Christie challenged the constitutionality of the Professional an Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 in the US District Court. The law had been put into place to stop sports betting from being legalized in most states. However, New Jersey wanted its Atlantic City casinos to be able to offer it.

New Jersey passed its own law to legalize sports betting in an attempt to bypass PASPA. But a group of professional sports leagues (NCAA, NBA, NFL, and NHL) sued the state. The case went to the US District Court, which ruled for the leagues. New Jersey appealed the case, which led to the Court of Appeals upholding that original ruling.

With New Jersey determined to pass its own law and the sports leagues just as set against it, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in June 2017. After oral arguments at the end of the year, the highest court in America ruled in May 2018 for New Jersey. PASPA was ruled unconstitutional by the 6-to-3 decision.

The case of Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (Murphy being the governor who took Christie’s place) opened up the sports betting industry for all states in America.

Prior to the ruling, Nevada was the only state with full-fledged sports betting in its casinos. Oregon, Delaware, and Montana were excepted from PASPA in a limited manner.

After the May 2018 decision, however, every state had the right to legalize and regulate sports betting.

Wasting No Time

New Jersey was one of the first states, along with Delaware, to launch full sports betting operations after the Supreme Court ruling.

Several other states followed in the next few months, such as Rhode Island, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Arkansas and parts of New Mexico were also in the mix.

In little more than a year, other states like Iowa and New York have launched sports betting. And Montana, Illinois, Indiana, New Hampshire, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C. preparing to launch in the coming months.

And according to the latest tracking by ESPN, more states could also legalize sports wagering this year. In fact, it is very likely to happen.

Canadians Crossing the Border

Without any legal single-event sports betting in Canada, many people are considering crossing the border into America to place their bets.

Right now, they can do so in New York, and New Jersey and Pennsylvania are not far.

Illinois and Montana are working on their sports betting launches, and those states border Canada.

Border states considering legislation at the current time include Washington State, North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Vermont, and Maine.

With each state that joins the sports betting club in America, more Canadians will have the option to travel for their sports wagering needs.

Will this make Canadian lawmakers more likely to change the law to legalize single-event betting?

Ontario Might Lead the Way

In April of this year, Ontario Premier Doug Ford made a significant effort to start a conversation about sports betting, putting notes into his budget proposal. He indicated a strong interest in meeting with federal government officials to legalize single-event sports wagering across Canada.

Ford joined Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli in the push. Fedeli has been advocating for the change from current sports betting options to that of betting on as little as one game or event. He has noted that the market would grow and be competitive with the US market.

While Ford seems to want the federal government to handle the issue, Fedeli is continuing to request that Ontario take the lead. “It should generate revenues for the province of Ontario,” he has said, “but primarily, it’s about legalizing something and offering choice for families.”

There are also more firms lobbying the federal government along the same lines. One company is theScore, a digital sports platform developer that is working closely with US companies. It wants to do the same in Canada.

Along with theScore, the Pathway Group of Toronto is lobbying the government with a special focus on MPs and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.


Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell has been writing about poker and gambling since 2004. From her days in the WPT offices to covering summers of WSOP tournament action, she also followed gambling legislation to Washington D.C. and women-only poker to the Bahamas. Meanwhile, she lived in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for many years before moving back to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Now, Jen travels less, writing about poker and online gambling from her home with her two dogs watching her every move. In her spare time, she follows politics, works on her never-finished novels, and learns Italian in the hopes of retiring to Italy someday.

If you want to know more, you can follow Jen on Twitter @WriterJen


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