• Villanova Sports Law Blog

The New Era for Sports Gambling

By Zac Candelaria:

The summer of 2018 was a telltale time in the worldwide, multi-billion dollar industry of sports. Over the past five years, rumors circulated that sports gambling would become legalized if a certain 1992 federal rule were struck down. On May 14, 2018, the Supreme Court provided a pathway pursuant to New Jersey for significant changes in the sports gambling business. Justice Samuel Alito opined that, absent federal legislation, each state is free to determine its sports gambling policy.[1] The battle to legalize sports betting has already been won, however, this will be the first series regarding the parameters in legalized sports betting.


The pending question is whether Congress will take matters into their own hands to regulate sports gambling at the federal level, or if they will choose to allow each state to handle these regulations independently.[2] Influential figures in the industry are making their cases for the latter. James Kilsby, managing director of a global gambling intelligence provider, believes that federal regulations on the matter would simply be an encroachment on states’ rights to enact their own regulations.[3] Both the commissioner of the National Football League and a spokesman for Major League Baseball agreed that federal regulation following the bill that legalized sports betting would not be beneficial for the country and the gaming industry as a whole. A spokesman for the National Basketball Association expressed the league’s commitment to protecting the interests of all key players involved while utilizing a uniform framework for sports gambling.[4]


While casinos and leagues throughout the United States would prefer state regulation on the matter, some key figures have been outspoken in their criticism of this option. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, released a memo in which he outlined a legislative framework for Congress to consider.[5] Senator Schumer believes that there is a lot of integrity involved in the matter. Sports create a brief escape for many fans worldwide, and they provide the youth with ambitions and goals fueled by their favorite stars. Due to the fact that it is such a precious case where sports gambling could become a slippery slope of addiction, it seems as though Congress would be better suited to keep the core standards of sports under strict supervision.[6]


The Supreme Court struck down the federal law from 1992 in order to make an impact on the illegal market of sports gambling.[7] Still, it seems as though Congress will have their hands full trying to deal with the illegal market. Considering that the generally high taxes and integrity fees don’t quite make a dent in the market, engaging in it may still hold better odds and better cuts on the winning end.[8]


The recent change sparked by the Supreme Court ruling has provided states with the new tricky task of trying to find ways to efficiently manage and regulate sports gambling. For now, it does not seem that Congress will be creating a federal framework for regulation.[9] Over the coming months, we will keep an eye on the matter to see how states deal with regulating sports gambling despite obstacles stemming from integrity fees from leagues and Congress’ efforts to create a framework to regulate the recently legalized business.



[1] de Vogue, Ariana; Vazquez, Maegan, Supreme Court lets states legalize sports gambling, CNN (May 14, 2018), https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/14/politics/sports-betting-ncaa-supreme-court/index.html.

[2] Id.

[3] Glanz, James, States Are Pushing to Keep Federal Regulation Out of Sports Gambling, The New York Times (May 23, 2018), https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/23/sports/sports-gambling-regulation.html.

[4] Id.

[5] Rovell, Darren, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer suggests federal framework for sports betting, ESPN (Aug. 29, 2018) http://www.espn.com/chalk/story/_/id/24511871/chuck-schumer-suggests-federal-framework-sports-betting.

[6] Id.

[7] Helsel, Phil, Sports betting is now legal in several states. Many others are watching from the sidelines, NBC News (Aug. 21, 2018) https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/sports-betting-now-legal-several-states-many-others-are-watching-n894211.

[8] Id.

[9] Chiari, Mike, Chuck Schumer Suggests Federal Framework for Legalized Sports Gambling, Bleacher Report (Aug. 29, 2018), https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2793199-chuck-schumer-suggests-federal-framework-for-legalized-sports-gambling.