Game on in American sports gambling with court call

World | May 16, 2018
The US Supreme Court has paved the way for states to legalize gambling on baseball, basketball, American football and other sports - a business worth many billions of dollars annually.

The court ruled 6-3 in favor of New Jersey, a state that has lobbied for years for the right to allow sports betting.

It declared unconstitutional a 1992 federal law banning wagering on professional and university sports except in four states where the market is already in place - Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon.

Congress enacted the legislation - championed by then-senator Bill Bradley, a Democrat and former star basketballer for the New York Knicks - on the grounds gambling would threaten the integrity of sporting events.

In its ruling, the court said the US Congress reserves the right to regulate sports gambling directly, "but if it elects not to do so each state is free to act on its own."

The ruling, which eliminates Nevada's near-stranglehold on US sports betting, is expected to lead to a rush by state legislatures to authorize sports wagering to reap tax revenue.

Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who fought the law on behalf of the state's down-on-their-luck casinos in Atlantic City, welcomed the ruling. "A great day for the rights of states," he said. "New Jersey citizens wanted sports gambling and the federal government had no right to tell them no."

Two leading fantasy sports firms, FanDuel and DraftKings, immediately announced plans to get into sports wagering.

DraftKings' chief executive Jason Robins said the court ruling was "welcome news to the millions of Americans who currently wager US$150 billion [HK$1.1 trillion] llegally each year through offshore, black-market bookies."


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