The Supreme Court of the United States on May 14 struck down a 1992 law prohibiting sports betting in most of the U.S., allowing states to legalize the practice at their discretion despite objections from the National Collegiate Athletic Association and many professional sports organizations.
In the 6-3 majority opinion, the court decided the prohibition was an unlawful extension of federal court influence into state affairs. "Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own," Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority.
The issue found itself in the country's highest court after New Jersey voters approved sports betting in the state, but several sports leagues challenged a new state law allowing the practice. The leagues argued that the law was in violation of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which barred state-authorization of sports betting with some exceptions. The Supreme Court decided the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act is an unconstitutional overreach of its authority.
Responding to the news, the NFL said in a statement that it would "call on Congress" to develop a "core regulatory framework" for sports betting in the U.S., a sentiment echoed by NBA commissioner Adam Silver, according to USA Today. The MLB said it would seek "proper protections" for the sport. The NCAA also published a statement saying it would "adjust sports wagering and championship policies to align with the direction from the court."
However, some industry participants were more enthusiastic about the decision. "It brings a multibillion dollar industry out of the shadows and into the sunlight, where its integrity can be guaranteed and consumers can be better protected. I believe today's decision will change the face of sports fandom for the better," Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said in a blog post.
Some U.S.-focused casino gaming stocks, like Caesars Entertainment Corp. and Penn National Gaming Inc., were up above 4% for the day, as of late-day trading.