Sports Betting Law PAPSA Just Turned 25, But Can It Make It To 26?

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25th birthday cupcake on blue background
The law that made sports betting illegal across most of the United States celebrated its 25th anniversary last week. However, it may not make it to 26.

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) is the federal law making sports betting illegal everywhere except Nevada. Some parlay sports betting in Delaware and game square wagering in Montana are also exempt.

The law came into effect on Oct. 28, 1992.

American Gaming Association (AGA) President and CEO Geoff Freeman issued a statement criticizing PASPA a few days ahead of its 25th anniversary.

“PASPA is a failed law that has driven everyday sports fans into an unregulated, illegal sports betting market that offers zero consumer protections and fails to benefit communities or strengthen the integrity of the sports we love.”

Changing attitudes towards gambling

In fact, the AGA suggested much has changed in the 25 years since PASPA became law. Casino gaming has spread across the United States, and American attitudes toward gambling have changed.

PASPA initially aimed to protect the integrity of professional and amateur sports and avoid the influence of organized crime. Now, the AGA says technology and data can do that job.

“For PASPA to remain the law of the land is to place our collective heads in the sand and willfully ignore criminal activity, the will of the people and the power of technology,” the AGA statement reads.

The AGA also suggested PASPA’s days are numbered.

New Jersey’s PASPA challenge

In 2011, the state of New Jersey passed a bill legalizing sports betting at racetracks and casinos. However, major professional sports leagues in the US filed a lawsuit to stop it.

The leagues won and the courts struck down the law, upholding PASPA. However, after a series of appeals failed, New Jersey attempted to pass similar legislation in 2014. The leagues filed suit and the law was struck down again.

The state’s appeals were denied at first. However, the US Supreme Court agreed in June to hear its case against PASPA. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Dec. 4. A decision is expected in the spring of 2018.

The AGA has stood firmly behind New Jersey’s efforts, presenting briefs in the case this fall. The organization also launched the American Sports Betting Coalition to lobby for the repeal of the federal sports betting ban in June.

The billion-dollar sports betting industry

An Oxford Economics study concluded that legalizing sports betting in the United States could create an estimated $26 billion in economic output, generate up to $5.3 billion in tax revenue, and support up to 152,000 jobs.

With PASPA still in place, the AGA says Americans will continue to bet billions on sports illegally. In fact, the AGA claims Americans bet $154 billion on sports last year. It also said nearly all of it was wagered through illegal bookies and unregulated offshore websites.

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Martin Derbyshire

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Martin Derbyshire has more than ten years of experience reporting on the poker, online gambling, and land-based casino industries for a variety of publications including Bluff Magazine, PokerNews, and PokerListings. He has traveled extensively, attending tournaments and interviewing major players in the gambling world.

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