Just about this time last year, as I was facing the world as a newly-minted 2L, I wrote my first blog article for the ABA Law Student Division. I picked a topic that I had grown up with my entire life: legalized sports betting.
This past summer, I remember sitting in my apartment watching some monotony on the television when I saw it: the Ameristar Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa would be offering legalized sports betting. My apartment in Omaha, Nebraska is only four miles from the casino and for the first time it dawned on me that legalized sports betting was happening. It was right at my doorstep in my new home. I’m 32-years-old and for the first time in my life, I didn’t have to go back home to Nevada – which is a three-hour non-stop flight, or a 19-hour (non-stop) drive away – to make any kind of sports bet for myself.
Let’s recap how we got here, the TL;DR from my first blog post. In 1992, the 102nd Congress enacted the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (the “Act”) which made sports betting illegal, except in Oregon, Delaware, Montana, and Nevada. Fast forward to May 2018 when the United States Supreme Court declared the Act unconstitutional by a 6-3 decision in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association.
At the time of my first blog post, only five states that offered legalized sports betting: Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi and New Mexico. In the 13 months since that post, that number has jumped to 18 states offering full legalized sports betting, including five states since May of this year. Let that sink in. In 13 months, the number of states allowing legalized sports betting has increased 360%, and it’s not slowing down any time soon. In addition to the five states (Illinois, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Tennessee) that have legalized sports betting since May, another 24 states have pending legislation. Colorado is slated have sports betting on their November 2019 ballot with legalization occurring in May 2020, should the law pass.
Sports betting is so widely popular that in May, the state of New Jersey overtook Nevada in way of the amount of money spent on sports wagers. That month, New Jersey accounted for $318.9 million in sports bets as compare to $317.4 million in Nevada.
While legalizes sports betting is taking off across the country, there are those states which would require an amendment to their state’s constitution in order to pave the way for legalized sports betting.
One state that falls into this category is Idaho. Article III, Section 20 of the Idaho Constitution prohibits gambling as being contrary to public policy except their state lottery and bingo. Another that falls into this category is Utah. In fact, it is written into the state’s constitution – under Article IV, Section 27 – that the “Legislature shall not authorize any game of chance, lottery or gift enterprise under any pretense for any purpose.”
However, it is quite clear – as you can see from the graphic above – legalized sports betting is catching on like wildfire in Game of Thrones, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.