The Super Bowl is one of the top sporting events in the USA. Yet across the nation, fans couldn’t bet on their favorite team, at least not legally. Currently, Nevada casinos are the only place that allows sports betting. However, all that might change soon, as New Jersey challenges a law that prevents them from legalizing sports betting.
Super Bowl Kicks Off for Players But Not Betters
The Super Bowl LII kicked off on Sunday, February 4th. The New England Patriots were looking to claim their sixth championship win while underdogs Philadelphia Eagles were primed to stop them in their tracks after winning three straight playoff games to reach the final.
The excitement was building, and all around the USA, people were talking about who would win. Yet hardly anyone could put their money where their mouth is and place a bet. Only those living in Nevada could place a safe bet.
In perhaps one of the most memorable Super Bowl events ever, it was the Philadelphia Eagles who emerged victoriously, and by a convincing margin of 33–41. The Eagles raced ahead in the first few minutes, stepping toe-to-toe with last year’s champions before falling behind in the last quarter, and pulling it back for a stunning victory and their first Super Bowl win. Anyone who placed a bet on this result would have been laughing their way back home!
The Super Bowl brings to light many aspects of the sports betting debate in the U.S. In Nevada casinos, the only place in the nation where sports betting is legal, an estimated $140 million was spent on sports betting during the Super Bowl weekend.
Meanwhile, an estimated $150 billion is spent per year on unregulated sports betting in the USA, and approximately $4.6 billion was wagered offshore and with illegitimate bookies during the Super Bowl.
Advertising is already big business during sports events, with advertisers paying around $5 million for a 30-second in-game commercial. The sports betting market would represent another massive opportunity for revenue and tax.
New Jersey Challenging Sports Betting Law
Currently, there is only a hand full of states that permit sports betting, including Nevada, Oregon, Montana and Delaware. This is mainly due to a 26-year-old law called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which stops individual states from authorizing sports betting.
States like Nevada could bypass this law due to historical factors. They were given the go-ahead to continue taking sports bets while other states had to sit back and forget about it.
This is unusual stuff for states like New Jersey, who approved casino gaming in 1976. Casino games and poker are already legal in the state, and players can even find a casino and live casino games online at sites like 888 Casino. Yet New Jersey cannot allow sports betting of any nature due to the PASPA law.
Depending on the outcome of a relevant pending court case, this could all change soon. Currently, New Jersey is challenging the PASPA law for the right to allow sports betting in casinos and racetracks. The case is under review at the Supreme Court, and the ruling is expected in June this year.
Will sports betting be legal in the USA?
The New Jersey PASPA case is significant for the future of sports betting in the USA. Since the law was passed, no states other than those where sports betting was already legal have been able to make steps toward accepting wagers. If New Jersey wins the case, their victory could pave the way for other states to challenge the legislation or could encourage changes to the policy.
Public opinion about sports betting is also shifting. Traditionally, much of the population in the USA have been against sports betting and other types of gambling, but in recent years, the tides are turning, and gaming is becoming accepted as a common leisure activity.
A recent poll by the Washington Post demonstrates this and shows that the population is now 55 percent in favor of legalized sports betting compared with only 41 percent in favor in 1993. The graph’s upward trend projection shows that public opinion is set to continue in this direction.
Yet public opinion alone is not enough to sway policy, and the slight majority favor as of late is not tide-turning enough for a sports betting revolution. It will be a while before we find out the results of the Supreme Court case. If New Jersey succeeds, that will be one more state that can take sports bets.
The Super Bowl is an exciting event that stands out on the American calendar as an opportunity for viewing and betting. This year, an estimated $140 billion was spent in Nevada alone during the Super Bowl weekend, with many more bets taken on the underground markets.
In light of the increasing demand and potential for revenue, and with New Jersey applying pressure to the aging PASPA bill, we could soon see safe and regulated sports betting spread farther across the U.S. But it could be a while yet! Stay tuned.