The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, also known as The Bradley Act, effectively banned sports wagering nationwide in the United States. In May 2018, PASPA was ruled unconstitutional, opening the floodgates for States to pass their own legislation regarding sports gambling. This was a massive win for sports gambling in the United States, as Nevada was no longer the only States with the means to pass legislation on this matter.
The bill was first introduced in 1991 and signed into law on October 28, 1992 by George H.W. Bush. The goal of the Act was to prohibit sports wagering under State law, governing the States decision to allow sports wagering. The bill was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in Murphy vs. National Collegiate Athletic Association on May 14, 2018. The main reasoning for declaring the Act unconstitutional was that the bill violated States’ rights under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution.
As for the impact on online poker, the hope is that this outcome paves the way for poker to get another look. Perhaps with sports betting out of the dark, poker will be next in line. At the very least, this ruling has drawn Congressional attention to the online gambling arena and provides optimism that online poker might finally become legalized. Immediately after the Supreme Court ruling, the Poker Alliance released a statement showing hopefulness that online poker may ride the coattails of wider gambling expansion in the United States. Below is an excerpt from the statement.
“This is a great decision for consumers who for years have had no alternative to wager on sports other than the black market. It presents states with the perfect opportunity to establish sensible policies not only to regulate sports wagering, but also other forms of gaming, including internet poker.”
Exempted States from PASPA
Four States were exempted from PASPA in 1992, for differing reasons. These States include Nevada for licensed sports betting, as well as Oregon, Delaware and Montana for sports lotteries.
New Jersey was the State at the forefront of continued efforts against PASPA, ramping up efforts in 2009 by filing a lawsuit claiming that PASPA discriminated against certain States, because the law allowed some States to participate while disallowing others. New Jersey continued its assault on PASPA in 2011 and 2012 by enacting their own laws to allows sports wagering at racetracks and casinos, knowingly in the face of PASPA. These laws laid the groundwork for the State to act swiftly should PASPA be reversed and allowed New Jersey to gain first-mover advantage once PASPA was struck down in 2018.
- The Murphy vs. NCAA case was initially spearheaded by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie until he stepped down in 2017
- Then-commissioner of the NBA, David Stern, was one of the main voices in favor of enacting PASPA in 1992
- As of July 2019, eight States now have legalized, state-regulated sports betting industries: Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Rhode Island, and Arkansas
- Seven additional States either have passed law or have bills in-progress to allow legalized, state-regulated sports betting industries: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, and Tennessee. All of these States could have some sort of legal wagering in 2019 or 2020.