A ban passed in 1992 to prevent sports betting in the state of Massachusetts could be struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court when it convenes this spring. That means that changes to the gambling market in the state could be on the way, even before Massachusetts’ new casino resorts in Everett and Springfield are ready to open.
If the 1992 federal ban is reversed, all states will be able to legalize, and, of course, tax, sportsbooks. As legalized sports betting is pretty much only found in Nevada, this change would almost certainly trigger fierce competition between different regions to attract punters.
State Officials Paying Close Attention to Supreme Court Case
Although Massachusetts officials aren’t leaping into anything immediately, they have been paying extremely close attention to a Supreme Court that was involves the state of New Jersey. Of course, even if sports betting is opened by the court to further states, it would still be necessary for Massachusetts to approve legislation before any bettors could legally place a wager there.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is now drawing up a briefing paper to present to the lawmakers of the state to lay out all the possible outcomes that could result from the Supreme Court’s decision.
Penn National Gaming Throws Hat in The Ring
There are currently three casino operators that are licensed by the state of Massachusetts, but Penn National Gaming is the only one to have expressed enthusiasm about the possibilities of taking sports wagers. Part of the American Gaming Association’s sports betting task force, Penn National is responsible for running the Plainridge Park slots parlor and is interested in opening a sportsbook if this type of gambling was legalized in the state. While the company’s representatives acknowledge that sports betting would neither generate vast casino profits nor enormous tax windfalls for the state, they believe that it could be a useful way of ensuring their casino remains competitive.
Massachusetts Casino Brands Staying Quiet
Another company that is also watching the case with great interest is Wynn Resorts. This big-name company is currently constructing a $2.4 billion casino and hotel in Everett that is due to open next year. And, while the company hasn’t haven’t expressed its intentions yet, it is clearly keeping its options open. Meanwhile, MGM Resorts, which is constructing a $950 million casino in Springfield that is due to open later this year, has not yet commented on the subject. However, its Nevada property already takes sports bets, which may indicate that its Springfield casino will do so as well.
New Jersey Quotes The 10th Amendment
The Supreme Court case was originally brought by New Jersey’s outgoing Gov. Chris Christie. For many years, he had been trying to bring sports betting to the casinos of Atlantic City, where regional competition has caused chaos in the gambling market. New Jersey has been prohibited from permitting legalized sportsbooks by the PASPA law of 1992, which prohibits all states except Nevada and three others from making sports betting legal. New Jersey’s case hangs on the 10th Amendment. The argument is the 1992 law is requiring the state to comply with something it essentially opposes, violating the state’s rights that should be protected under the 10th Amendment. Gambling law experts believe there are five potential outcomes of the court case, including a broad ruling that includes issues beyond sports betting, or a narrower decision that works for New Jersey’s favor.
The American Gaming Association and other supporters of striking down the PASPA law estimate around $150 billion of illegal sports bets are made by Americans each year. Banning legal sports books is pushing the huge betting market underground and states are being robbed of large potential tax revenues. Of course, opponents of the cause have a completely different view, warning that making sports betting legal would have a negative effect on society and, especially, on young minds