States, businesses may bet big on Supreme Court's gambling move

By Danielle Haynes Follow @DanielleHaynes1 Contact the Author   |  Updated June 6, 2018 at 4:27 PM
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June 6 (UPI) -- After the Supreme Court ruled last month against a law banning sports betting in the United States, an industry likely worth billions of dollars will soon come to several states -- and everyone's holding out their hands for a cut of the payout.

Though the May 14 ruling immediately struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, each individual state must first pass its own legislation before residents lawfully can bet on sporting events like the U.S. Open or the World Series.

Research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming predict legalized sports betting could be a $6.03 billion business annually by 2023. Offshore sports books are bringing in between $2.5 billion and $3 billion annually from Americans making illegal bets.

The American Gaming Association has even higher expectations, predicting a $41.2 billion industry.

What kind of impact could that have once states begin legalizing the practice?

States' status

Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon already allow some degree of sports betting -- grandfathered in as their law preceded the 1992 federal ban. All other states would need to install a new legal framework. Nevada was the only state that allowed full sports betting before the Supreme Court ruling.

New Jersey led the fight against the PASPA and likely will be among the first states to legalize sports betting. Home to Atlantic City, it's the only state other than Nevada that allows statewide gambling at casinos. The New Jersey Senate and Assembly hope to pass legislation by Thursday and have Gov. Phil Murphy sign it shortly after.

Delaware, which allowed limited sports betting before the ruling, expanded its law Tuesday to allow single-game sports wagering, and Oregon and Montana could also expand what they allow. Connecticut, Iowa, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia all either have passed legislation to allow it or have started the process.

Lawmakers in California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and South Carolina have introduced legislation.

Utah is unlikely to change its stance on sports betting, as measures banning all gambling are in the state's constitution. All other states have laws against sports gambling and haven't shown any significant attempts to change that in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling.

Money, money, money, money

The major incentive, of course, for states to legalize sports betting is the additional tax revenue. New Jersey Treasurer Elizabeth Muoio on May 14 projected the state could see $13 million in revenue from sports betting in the fiscal year beginning July 1.

That's a fraction of Murphy's proposed $37.4 billion budget.

Democratic New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney told NJ.com although Muoio's figure sounds "real low," it's better to be "more conservative than overoptimistic."

"This is our first time out," he said. "We don't know what to expect."

An analysis by Fitch Ratings predicts the ruling will have "only a small impact on overall gaming revenue and is unlikely to have a material adverse impact on Las Vegas' sports betting activity." Data from the analysis shows Nevada saw nearly $4.9 billion in sports betting in 2017, with $249 million in gross gaming revenue and $17 million in state tax revenue.

A Moody's Investors Service report said sports betting accounts for about 3 percent of all gambling in Nevada.

Jake Williams, legal counsel at Sportradar, a company that collects and analyzes data for bookmakers, sports leagues and media companies, agreed any new betting revenue won't be a large windfall right away, but it has potential to drive tangential revenue.

"It seems like some people think it'll be a massive boon for tax revenue," he told UPI. "I think that's probably not the case."

Williams advised state lawmakers to first take time to implement regulations that will benefit the industry. He said there might be a tendency for states with casino infrastructure to "piggyback" from it, which would help get laws in place quickly. He noted sports betting should be treated as a separate entity because, unlike most casino gaming, it has no built-in house advantage.

Williams also warned states against over-taxing and ultimately snuffing out sports betting. He pointed to a plan in Pennsylvania to tax sports betting winnings at 36 percent, compared to 7 percent in Nevada and between 10 and 20 percent in other states.

"Basically anyone who went there would be losing money on sports betting," Williams said, adding that casinos should treat sports gambling as a feeder for other games.

"It's certainly something that ... is a feeder and driver for [customers] coming in, eating, staying at hotels" and playing other games, he said.

Experts say that's exactly what businesses in the Gulf Coast are hoping for -- an influx in tourism and travel dollars as people flock to casinos to take advantage of sports betting.

"You've got the ability to cross-sell hotel rooms, entertainment, other gaming opportunities at the casino," said People's Ban President Chevis Swetman at a meeting of the Gulf Coast Business Council last month. "You have the restaurant industry here on the coast. All facets of tourism should be able to grow."

Mississippi's State Gaming Commission is expected to vote on sports betting inside its casinos on June 21 -- and if it's approved, betting could start 30 days after that.

"Some of our slowest times here on the coast are during the fall and winter months, during the Saturdays of college football, the Sundays of professional football," Ashley Edwards of the Gulf Coast Business Council told told WLOX-TV. "So, the ability now to bring in a whole new market of people into our gaming industry is significant. It can be a game changer for the coast."

Advertising

Local and state businesses aren't the only ones that stand to benefit from the Supreme Court's decision. Experts believe television viewership and advertising for professional sports likely will also see a boost.

A Nielsen Sports study from 2016 found adults who bet on NFL games watched 19 more league games in 2015 than those who didn't. And more eyes on the game mean more eyes on advertising.

"That's meaningful," Williams said. "TV networks and broadcasters will benefit indirectly."

Media companies could cater programming to bettors, providing stats and partnering with online betting platforms.

"The number of revenue streams that come out of this are endless," ESPN anchor Scott Van Pelt told The Wall Street Journal after the Supreme Court ruling.

Experts say ultimately it will depend on how many states approve sports betting and whether they place restrictions on ad purchases that mention or promote gambling.

"I think it probably will lead to some incremental spending," Brian Wieser, a senior analyst at Pivotal Research Group cautioned to the Journal.

It also remains to be seen how the ban's dismissal could impact professional sports in places like Nevada. For years, leagues have been hesitant to place teams in Las Vegas due to the city's heavy sports wagering atmosphere. One of the United States' fastest-growing cities, Las Vegas has just one pro team -- the NHL's Golden Knights.

The NFL's Oakland Raiders will move there in 2019 or 2020, but the NBA and Major League Baseball have never been close to granting a franchise in Las Vegas. Former baseball star and manager Pete Rose was banned from Major League Baseball in 1989 for betting on baseball. As a result, he is not eligible for the Hall of Fame.

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