September 26, 2017
By Nick Sortal
As in years past, football fans who like a little bit of action can pick NFL games at Calder Casino: It’s a far cry from sports gambling, but it’s the best casino option we have.
That may change, according to the American Gaming Association and legal experts. They see a day when sports betting is legal at casinos everywhere and point to a case to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding New Jersey’s efforts to legalize sports wagering. The case could bring about the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), that Congress passed in 1992, banning sports betting in most places.
“This is probably the most critical year in the debate surrounding sports betting,” says Daniel Wallach, a lawyer from the South Florida firm Becker & Poliakoff, who has become among the most popular speakers when it comes to sports gambling. “It’s when everything will come to a head.”
Wallach is on a panel that will discuss the latest developments at the Global Gaming Expo next week in Las Vegas. The AGA has made a push for legalized sports betting its signature issue, with regular press releases and news conferences pointing out the prevalance of illegal, unregulated sports gambling and insisting on a repeal of PASPA.
AGA President Geoff Freeman notes polls show a more favorable attitude toward sports betting, citing the popularity of fantasy sports and the overall presence of gambling in everyday life, such as the expansion of casinos and the lottery. The sports leagues also have backed away from their anti-gambling stance, if for no other reason than the fact that fans who are involved in fantasy sports have a much deeper interest in the outcome of all games — and their passion is reflected in the TV viewership numbers. For example, NBA commissioner Adam Silver in 2014 wrote a New York Times op-ed calling for a “federal framework” to legalize sports betting.
Would sports betting have a place in South Florida casinos if (a big if) the state then approved it? Freeman and others hope so, and note that in 2017 Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and West Virginia introduced some form of sports betting legislation. Much of it hinges on the repeal of PASPA.