Despite all the ‘guesstimates’ and rumours focusing on a March announcement on PASPA, yet another deadline has come and gone and we’re still sitting here speculating in the dark. The whole gambling world and his dog will now have to wait until April 17 at the earliest for SCOTUS to lift up her skirts and reveal whether or not New Jersey can legally offer betting on sports.
For new entrants to the US sports betting sector and the growing line of states aspiring to their own legal sports betting offer, the outcome can’t be announced soon enough. They either need to get to work on implementing their well laid plans or move on and do something more profitable than sitting around waiting for the legals to take a thumb out of the dyke.
The Supreme Court could, of course, be forgiven for erring on the side of caution. After all, we’re talking about a decision that would overturn, partially or fully, a 26-year-old federal law. What’s a few more days and weeks in the grand scheme of things? If you’re one of the several suitors waiting in the wings for SCOTUS to come up with the goods, those days and weeks may perhaps feel like a lifetime.
For SBC Americas, as industry observers, the ongoing situation offers an intriguing insight to a sector of business that could only just pass scrutiny as a ‘grey’ market. If this were 50 shades of grey, US sports betting would be found dwelling at the darker end of the achromatic scale! That 97 per cent of the $10bn waged on March Madness was done via illegal bets (source American Gaming Association) tells us as much. Nevada may well be looking at that figure with a degree of envy and questioning if it was worth getting out of bed for a mere $300m of March Madness business.
Expand that figure out to a staggering $150bn of illegal betting every year in the US and you have a clear picture of a market where change is long overdue. PASPA and, to some extent, the WIRE Act, are classic examples of legislation that were introduced, ostensibly, to maintain integrity and protect consumers. But instead they have effectively been ignored by a vast army of American sports fans who simply refuse to let the law come between them and their beloved sports bets.
The big numbers surely won’t have been lost on SCOTUS as it mulls over the future for sports betting in the US. They show that there is the critical mass required to kick start a measured set of changes that will give bettors a legal and, presumably, better betting alternative than what’s already on offer. Let’s see what the rest of April, May or possibly even June will bring!