A common-sense ruling on sports gambling

Published 11:29 am Thursday, May 17, 2018

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday overturned a federal law that barred most states from legalizing sports betting.

This, to us, is a long overdue, common sense ruling.

The most immediate outcome for residents of the Commonwealth is that, with a drive across the bridge into West Virginia, one will soon be able to put a bet down on pretty much any sporting event they choose. The state of West Virginia legalized sports gambling this past spring although it appears a few details have yet to be worked out including whether the casinos, the state, or gamblers will pay sports franchises an “integrity fee,” also known as a gambling tax directed to the sports franchises, leagues and universities. Gov. Jim Justice has said he may call a special session to iron out all the details, but the state was waiting to hear from the U.S. Supreme Court on its ruling before moving forward. That clearance came on Monday, so sports gambling in West Virginia is now cleared for takeoff.

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The ruling stemmed from the case Governor of New Jersey v. the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which was an effort by the Garden State to legalize sports gambling. Professional sports leagues and the NCAA claimed this was a violation of PASPA, which effectively barred most states from legalizing gambling on sports by forbidding states from any effort “to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize by law or compact” sports betting.

Therefore, New Jersey tried a different tact: It simply repealed its laws barring sports gambling.

The case opens an opportunity for states to re-examine their position on legalization of sports gambling_something Congress banned in 1992 under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, known as PASPA. In finding PASPA unconstitutional, the court reaffirms the federal government cannot tell state legislatures what laws to pass, repeal, or keep on the books.

A lot of the gambling laws — aimed at restricting wagering to designated spots like Las Vegas and Atlantic City — are badly antiquated. The reality is they were all crafted generations ago when there was no internet. Now, wherever you are, if you are intent on sports gambling, you can simply log on to your computer and do so through a myriad of off-shore accounts, etc.

It will be up to individual states to decide if they want to get in on the action, but in a world where sports gambling is accessible online at any time worldwide, this is obviously a common sense decision.

The Daily Independent