The U.S. Supreme Court had reached a landmark ruling, lifting the federal ban on the federal anti-sports gambling law, giving states the green light to allow betting on sports.
The Supreme Court's ruling in favor of New Jersey in the case of Murphy vs. National Collegiate Athletic Association — by a vote of 6-3 — is a historic one. New Jersey has fought for the better part of this decade to legalize sports gambling in its state and now has won this monumental ruling.
Now other states can decide whether they, like New Jersey, will opt to open sports betting in sanctioned places such as racetracks and casinos. Twenty other states signed on in support of New Jersey in the case. Now this truly could open the floodgates for legal gambling in other places across the country.
This clearly is a huge development as it pertains to the NFL, one of the most heavily bet American sports — previously both legally in places such as Las Vegas and illegally. It's expected that dozens of states could now apply for sports betting in the coming years. Nevada currently is the only state in which single-game bets are allowed.
The league issued a statement following the ruling, which falls in line closer to its past stance of discontent for gambling as it relates to their sport.
“The NFL’s long-standing and unwavering commitment to protecting the integrity of our game remains absolute. 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 the game.”
The NFL clearly has been awaiting this day, however, and its stance on gambling — once completely verboten — has changed slightly over the years, with regularly scheduled games happening annually in London, where wagering is allowed. Expect the NFL to want a piece of the action if and when other states get in on this.
Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked about the effects of a possible ruling in favor of New Jersey back in March, but the Wall Street Journal wrote that he "declined to discuss specifically what the league would do if sports betting is legalized."
The NFLPA also chimed in with a statement: “The Supreme Court’s decision today reaffirms our decision to collaborate with the other sports unions on the issues of player safety, integrity of our games and privacy and publicity rights. Our union will monitor developments closely and address the implications of this decision with the NFL, state legislators and other relevant stakeholders.”
In 1992, Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which prohibited state-sanctioned sports gambling. It stated that states could not sponsor sports gambling, although it was grandfathered in four states — Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana — which previously had established legal sports gambling regulations. New Jersey had not applied for the exemption before the window closed in 1991.
The NFL was among five professional sports leagues that also included the NCAA, NBA, NHL and MLB, along with the Department of Justice, that argued it violated the Tenth Amendment's protection against anti-commandeering federal laws.
New Jersey has lost several rulings along the way, and the case previously had not been heard by the Supreme Court in 2014.