It didn’t take long for the NFL to respond to a Supreme Court ruling Monday that opens the door to legalized sports gambling across the nation.
The court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a 1992 law that prohibited state-authorized sports betting except in Nevada, which was grandfathered in.
In a 6-3 decision, the court declared PASPA unconstitutional, clearing the way for other states to join Nevada in allowing wagers on individual games.
“The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority. “Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own. Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not.”
Hours later, the NFL issued a statement announcing its plan to lobby lawmakers — not for a revised federal law banning sports gambling, but for a “regulatory framework” covering legal betting.
“The NFL’s long-standing and unwavering commitment to protecting the integrity of our game remains absolute,” the league said. “Congress has long-recognized the potential harms posed by sports betting to the integrity of sporting contests and the public confidence in these events.
“Given that history, we intend to call on Congress again, this time to enact a core regulatory framework for legalized sports betting. We also will work closely with our clubs to ensure that any state efforts that move forward in the meantime protect our fans and the integrity of our game.”
The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport offered further insight on how the league is looking at the issue, saying the NFL won’t “rush into the biggest pot of dollars” but will make maintaining the “integrity of the game” its top priority.
Notes on how @NFL will react to the sports gambling news: 1. Maintaining integrity of the game is the highest’s priority. 2. It won’t rush into the biggest pot of dollars. Will slow-play this & think long-term. 3. The direct dollars will come from licensing, logos, videos & data.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 14, 2018
Billions of dollars are illegally bet on sports each year. A 1999 congressional study put the amount between $80 billion and $380 billion, while the American Gaming Association says it’s $150 billion — including nearly $5 billion on the Super Bowl.
The opportunity to tax a portion of such a huge pile of money will likely prove irresistible to cash-strapped states.
New Jersey, under then-Gov. Chris Christie, led the lawsuit against PASPA, and the Garden State will be among the first to follow Nevada in legalizing sports betting.
— AP Graphics (@APGraphics) May 14, 2018
Like the NFL, other leagues also expressed concern about the “integrity of the game” in the wake of Monday’s ruling, including the NBA, which was racked by a gambling scandal involving referee Tim Donaghy just over a decade ago.
“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court opens the door for states to pass laws legalizing sports betting,” Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “We remain in favor of a federal framework that would provide a uniform approach to sports gambling in states that choose to permit it, but we will remain active in ongoing discussions with state legislatures. Regardless of the particulars of any future sports betting law, the integrity of our game remains our highest priority.”
Major League Baseball said in its statement that the court’s ruling will have “profound effects” on its operation.
“As each state considers whether to allow sports betting, we will continue to seek the proper protections for our sport, in partnership with other professional sports,” MLB said. “Our most important priority is protecting the integrity of our games. We will continue to support legislation that creates air-tight coordination and partnerships between the state, the casino operators and the governing bodies in sports toward that goal.”
Donald Remy, chief legal officer for the NCAA, said that institution will “adjust sports wagering and championship policies to align with the direction from the court.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.