The United States Supreme Court overturned a long-standing prohibition on statewide sports betting Monday by a 6-3 ruling, essentially allowing states to decide for themselves whether they wish to authorize and license the popular American activity.
Regulated sports betting proponents and analysts were abuzz on social media moments after the official ruling was published.
Does NJ current law allow for online wagering ? Or will you have to wager at a casino in person ?
— Pete DeHeat (@njpd2015) May 14, 2018
Until we hear from NJDGE, this is going to be an open question. https://t.co/Slp5TpuvWu
— Dustin Gouker (@DustinGouker) May 14, 2018
The SCOTUS decision reverses a previous ban on sports betting in almost all United States jurisdictions that stemmed from the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
For anyone trying to make sense of today's SCOTUS ruling: LIVE WEBCAST at 3pm ET https://t.co/kZshOOYFTp
-George Rover, Princeton Strategies
-Quinton Singleton, SG Digital / NYX
-Chris Grove, Gambling Industry Strategist
-Lindsay Slader, GeoComply
-Mark Hichar, Hinkley Allen
— Steve Ruddock (@SteveRuddock) May 14, 2018
It is widely believed that “early adpoter” states that have already passed sports betting legislation (or are close to doing so) will have a leg-up on the competition in the months to come, as the news is expected to spark a wave of consumer interest in making live or online sports wagers in their respective regions.
The ruling will also end Nevada’s reign as the only U.S. state to offer most types of sports betting.
How Will This News Affect Efforts to Regulate Online Poker?
Generally speaking, the Supreme Court ruling is being viewed as “great news” by online poker players and fans. Many activists are hopeful that the decision will result in renewed interest for regulating online poker on a statewide level.
very state dependent, and only likely in states that are considering online sports betting + one of the following: 1) States looking for every last dime of revenue 2) states that lack the votes to get either passed singularly
— Steve Ruddock (@SteveRuddock) May 14, 2018
In New York, Assembly Bill 5250 could be added onto proposed sports betting legislation in the next few weeks, and there are more states that could do the same.
However, there may be other states whose appetite for live and online sports wagering supersedes that of regulated online poker — which at this time doesn’t enjoy the widespread interest among iGaming industry representatives that it once did.
Combined Online Poker and Sports Betting Lobbyist Activities?
The Supreme Court ruling may also breathe new life into efforts by the Poker Players Alliance, which has been contemplating whether to cross-promote legalized sports betting initiatives with those of the popular card game.
If the PPA does decide to pursue this route, it will be interesting to see whether the organization’s current president Rich Muny will be able to effectively rally supporters to the combined cause — and whether the organization’s efforts will continue to focus almost exclusively on mailer outreach, or evolve into a more detailed approach.
Since Muny has publicly expressed that there is no reason for online poker proponents to have a “gap in activism,” it is assumed the PPA’s stance on sports betting along with internet poker would be similar to that of U.S. iGaming’s main lobbyist arm, the iDevelopment and Economic Association (iDEA).
Statewide online poker/sports betting activists and opponents alike are becoming increasingly informed on how iGaming affects their local economies, which will provide a daunting challenge for lobbyist efforts on both sides of future debates. In some cases, this could pit special interest groups who stand to benefit from either the passage or restriction of iGaming legislative measures against each other.
Can Poker Activists Do Anything to Help? (Analysis)
* All analysis belongs solely to the author.
At this time, I would personally recommend that poker activists continue to engage with proposed online poker legislation in states such as New York and Michigan — where House Bill No. 4926 is currently being lobbied for by Michigan State Representative Brandt Iden.
Poker activists would also do well to remain as informed as possible while focusing their efforts on states which will be considering legalized sports betting in the months to come, and to contact their local state representatives to urge lawmakers to approve “skill-based” online poker for real money play.
Will Online Poker Regain Its Luster Among iGaming Industry Reps?
The answer to this question will likely depend on a number of factors, not least of which is whether online poker legislation is viewed as a “boon” or “burden” to passing sports betting measures.
If the “skill-based” rhetoric that is often associated with poker is perceived by iGaming stakeholders to improve the chances of passing sports betting legislation in a particular state, then poker could very well receive added positive attention from the industry.
Otherwise, this author believes that stakeholders will continue to lend their full-fledged support to regulated online poker only if internet casino and slots are included within a proposed bill.
Could SCOTUS Ruling Have Federal Implications?
Both iGaming industry stakeholders and professional sports leagues have stated that they “prefer” a federal regulatory framework for sports betting, yet efforts to persuade United States lawmakers to provide such a structure are staunchly opposed by several key U.S. Congress members who have continuously lobbied for a federal online gambling ban.
Therefore, the decision on whether or not to license online poker, sports betting and casino games will remain within the power of individual states for the time being.
Will Sports Betting Include eSports Wagers?
Real money wagers pertaining to competitive play of eSports titles such as FORTNITE, LEAGUE OF LEGENDS, and COUNTER STRIKE: GLOBAL OFFENSIVE have become an extremely popular hobby within the United States, and could potentially drive sports wagering activity among the coveted 21-35 demographic.
However, a number of questions remain as to the legality of certain “play money,” or “virtual currency” tokens that are offered within those titles, and those questions will need to be sorted out by states as they arise.
For now, legalized sports betting can move forward in states that choose to license and regulate the activity, which will undoubtedly provide a boost to the four-state American iGaming industry.
Read More Gambling Legislation Content from David Huber:
Connecticut Sports Wagers Public Testimony Study Guide (Mar 2, 2018 & May 14, 2018)
Michigan Regulated iGaming Study Guide (Feb 6, 2018)
Pennsylvania Category 4 Casino FAQs (Mar 12, 2018)
Statewide Gambling Expansions and Voter Referendum Mandates (May 3, 2018)
Poker Industry Monthly News Recap (Apr 28, 2018)
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