The legalization of sports betting in the United States is one of the most significant events in American sports history. It opened up a whole new world of opportunities for sports bettors and bookmakers, as well as the casinos that employ them. The betting world was a world full of mysteries and questions prior to the passing of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in late 2018. The bill, which is also known as the ‘‘Lift The Ban On Sports Betting’’ bill, was signed into law by President Donald Trump on December 20th, 2018. The bill officially removed the regulation that prohibited sportsbooks and gaming establishments from partnering up and allowing consumers to place bets on their favorite sports teams.
Who Will Govern Sports Betting In The U.S.?
In the absence of any sort of federal agency or authority overseeing the new industry, it is up to the states to decide how to handle sports betting. As of yet, only a handful of states—such as Nevada, Oregon, and California—have decided to fully legalize, regulate, and monitor sports betting. The rest of the country remains mired in the uncertainty that the Trump administration has introduced.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush in 1992 to protect the sports rights of America’s amateurs. The law, as it turns out, was written with exactly zero input from the sports industry itself.
Bush’s executive order to partially withhold federal funding from states that refused to abide by his lead in this area was the federal government’s initial response to the legalization of sports betting. The federal government maintained this stance until December 20th, 2018, when President Trump signed the ‘‘Lift The Ban On Sports Betting’’ bill into law. The bill officially removed the requirement that all 50 states comply with PASPA and handed over the regulation of sports betting to the individual states.
Where Can I Bet On Sports?
Prior to the passing of PASPA, states were not obligated to abide by the federal government’s lead in this area. As such, they were able to pass their own legislation regarding sports betting. Some states, such as New Jersey and Mississippi, actually banned sports betting in all forms, while others, such as Louisiana and Wyoming, permitted it but only under certain circumstances.
The signing of PASPA by President Bush was, in essence, a grandparental wink-and-a-nod from on high, allowing the states to chart their own course in regards to sports betting, as long as they did not violate the spirit of the law. In a manner of speaking, PASPA gave the states permission to act as parents and set rules and regulations regarding sports betting for the duration of the 2018 MLB season and the 2020 NFL season. (The World Cup is generally considered to be an amateur sport, which is why it is not impacted by PASPA.)
How Many Books Can I Bet On?
One of the most significant changes brought about by the legalization of sports betting is that it allowed for the establishment of numerous ‘‘books’’, or separate markets, for sports bettors. Prior to the legalization of sports betting, only a handful of states, such as Nevada, allowed for individual books for sports bettors. The majority of states had only one book for all sports, or for professional sports, for that matter. (The lone exception being Louisiana, which had a ‘‘sporting pari-mutuel wagering’’ book for racing fans.)
The establishment of separate books for different sports teams or games was a practical necessity given the lack of knowledge prior to PASPA. Prior to the passage of PASPA, individuals who bet on sports were forced to wade through piles of information in order to figure out the odds and determine the proper action. The situation was further complicated by the fact that some books were for specific sports while others were for a mix of sports. The end result being that individuals who wanted to bet on sports had to log countless hours in order to figure everything out.
As it turns out, the establishment of separate books for different sports teams is one of the things that PASPA was best at preventing. The fear that Bush and the federal government held regarding youth gambling and addiction led them to ban the establishment of any sort of ‘‘book’’, or separate market, for sports bettors. (This was in spite of the fact that youth sports participation rates were on the rise, with over 1.8 million kids playing sports in 2018, compared to 1.67 million in 2007, the year before PASPA.)
What About Online Sports Betting?
The legalization of sports betting in the United States has also opened up the world of online wagering. Prior to the passing of PASPA, internet betting on sports was considered ‘‘Unlawful Internet Gambling’’, or UIG, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. (Although the federal government did not have jurisdiction in this area, all 50 states maintained their right to regulate and prohibit internet wagering.)
Establishing a physical location for sportsbooks and allowing for online betting is significantly easier and more convenient given the world of broadband and online payments. Prior to PASPA, setting up a sportsbook in a physical location was near impossible for anyone who did not have the connections and clout to do so. (Even then, it was still considerably more difficult than it should have been.)
Who Are The Main Sportsbook Operators In The U.S.?
Even before PASPA, it was common practice for sportsbooks, or bookmakers, to have partnerships and affiliations with other sports-related businesses, such as clothing brands, casinos, and hotel groups. These types of partnerships allowed for reciprocal exchange of marketing information and promotion as well as an opportunity for profit sharing. (In some cases, particularly with larger sportsbooks, the profit from wagering can account for a significant portion of a bookmaker’s income.)
The legalization of sports betting in the United States has brought with it a new crop of bookmakers looking to make a name for themselves. With more states deciding to legalize and regulate sports betting than not, the opportunity for savvy individuals to establish a sportsbook and attract regular customers is significant. (There are already over 500,000 active registered users on the BET Sportsbook platform, for example.) These days, it is more common for sportsbooks to be established by and for Asian Americans than by anyone else. As with any other new industry, those who want to make it big will do whatever they can to ensure that their customers and enthusiasts keep coming back.