Regulated sports betting in the US will be a $6 billion market with 32 states participating within five years of legalization.

32 states would legalize sports betting if Supreme Court lets them

All eyes are on the Supreme Court, which is set to decide about New Jersey’s right to offer sportsbetting in October, a decision that could have a wide-ranging impact. (Image: Reporter Newspapers)

That’s according to a new study from analyst Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, which predicts that 14 states will offer sports betting within two years, should New Jersey’s challenge to the federal ban prove successful in the US Supreme Court, which is slated to consider the issue in a session that started Monday. A further 18 states would later follow their lead, suggests the analyst.

The Supreme Court announced in June that it would hear New Jersey’s sports betting appeal, which seeks to repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

PASPA prohibits states from legalizing sports betting, with the exception of Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana, which had passed laws permitting various forms of sports betting before PASPA’s enactment in 1992.

States’ Rights?

That’s the Constitutional question at hand.

The Supreme Court decided to hear the case of Chris Christie v. the National Collegiate Athletic Association, despite an opinion from acting US solicitor-general Jeffrey Wall, submitted at the Court’s request, that he could see “no reason” for the case to be heard.

This has given New Jersey a real hope for success. If the court did not see merit in the case it would have accepted Wall’s recommendation and simply dismissed it, as it does with 98 percent of cases it receives.

New Jersey believes that PASPA is a violation of its Tenth Amendment rights, arguing it is a “federal takeover of New Jersey’s legislative apparatus” that is “dramatic, unprecedented, and in direct conflict with this Court’s Tenth Amendment jurisprudence barring Congress from controlling how the States regulate private parties.”

The way New Jersey is framing the issue, the Court should have no right to forbid them from repealing their own prohibition on sports betting at race tracks.

“Never before has congressional power been construed to allow the federal government to dictate whether … a State may repeal its own state-law prohibitions on private conduct,” the state’s legal claim insisted.

Preparing for Life without PASPA

Many states will be watching the Supreme Court decision closely. West Virginia, Arizona, Louisiana, Wisconsin, and Mississippi all have signed an amicus brief, informing the Supreme Court of their support for New Jersey’s position.

Meanwhile, Connecticut and Mississippi have already passed laws authorizing sports betting, contingent on a favorable ruling, while nine other states have bills rattling around their respective legislatures, including California and New York.

To determine which states might regulate, Eilers and Krejcik assessed jurisdictions on several criteria, including a state’s specific constitutional hurdles, pending legislation, and general legislative mood toward gambling expansion as a means of filling budget gaps.

Eilers & Krejcik concluded Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia would be ready to regulate within two years or less of a PASPA repeal.

Those that would regulate in five years: Arizona, California, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Vermont, Washington, and Wyoming, according to the analyst.

Though popularity doesn’t make something constitutional, the study suggests when it comes to following New Jersey’s lead, legal sportsbetting has the support of a clear majority of the American people.