SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN FEDERAL SPORTS BETTING BAN, PAVING WAY FOR NJ AND OTHER STATES
-- Michael Sheetz, Reuters contributed to this report.
MANALAPAN, NJ -- May 14, 2018 -- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that states can legalize sports betting, breaking up Nevada's monopoly on the practice.
The court upheld the legality of a 2014 New Jersey law permitting sports betting at casinos and racetracks in the state and voided the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. Some states see sports betting, like lotteries, as a potentially important source of tax revenue.
The Supreme Court justices struck down the entire federal law on a 6-3 vote.
"The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make. Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own," Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the majority opinion.
The state law at issue would allow people age 21 and above to bet on sports at New Jersey casinos and racetracks but would ban wagers on college teams based in or playing in the state.
Shares of several casino companies moved higher following the ruling, including Caesars Entertainment, up 6 percent and Penn National Gaming, up 4 percent. Others gaining included MGM Resorts, Boyd Gaming and Churchill Downs. Wynn Resorts stock recaptured some of its losses from earlier in trading, down 1.9 percent on the day.
Industry analysts have said that dozens of states might legalize sports betting if they are not barred from doing so by the federal law. While awaiting Monday's ruling, seven states — Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Iowa, New York, Mississippi and West Virginia — had laws prepared to make sports betting legal. Thirteen other states — California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and South Carolina — have plans or proposals to consider legalizing sports betting.
The ruling takes the U.S. a step closer to legal sports betting in numerous states, possibly even nationwide. Currently, the practice is legal only in select places such as Nevada, home to the gambling capital Las Vegas. The current illegal sports betting market is worth billions of dollars annually.
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