On Monday (May 14, 2018), the U. S. Supreme Court struck down a 1992 federal law (The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) that prohibited states from offering sports betting, with the exceptions of Delaware, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon, which prior to 1992 had laws allowing sports betting.

In 2011, New Jersey voters challenged the 1992 ban by approving sports betting.  The New Jersey law was contested in the federal court system by the NCAA and the four major professional sports leagues.  By contrast, seventeen states supported New Jersey.  The 3rd U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the New Jersey Law in 2016, but the Supreme Court has now reversed that decision.

The states of Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Iowa, New York, Mississippi, and West Virginia have already prepared laws that would legalize sports betting within their borders.  States that are planning to consider legalization include California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.

This list includes the most prominent horse racing states.  Some of the states have relatively high taxes on residents and corporations and have huge budget issues and looming pension deficits for public employees.  These problems will no doubt be presented to voters and legislators as rationale to pass sports betting measures.

Racetrack companies will seek to offer sports betting whenever possible.  The effects of sports betting on pari-mutuel wagering is unknown because there is so much illegal sports betting going on, it remains to be seen how much legalized sports betting cannibalizes wagering on horse racing.  Racetracks should seize the opportunity to attempt to craft sports-like bets based on horse racing outcomes.  In other words, fixed-odds bets.

The U. S. Congress could endeavor to write a new law prohibiting sports betting in the states.  However, President Donald Trump is on the record in favor of sports betting, so he would be likely to veto such a bill.

Copyright © 2018 Horse Racing Business


  1. Bill Shanklin says

    Monmouth Park plans to be open for sports betting within two weeks. Churchill Downs stock, Penn National stock and other casino stocks are way up on the Supreme Court ruling.