Supreme Court Ruling Sparks Explosion in Sports Betting

James T. Berger headshot

James T. Berger
Senior Marketing Writer

Published October 16, 2019

As expected, last spring’s Supreme Court ruling, which struck down the 1992 law that banned commercial sports betting in most states, has created an explosion in legalized sports betting.

According to Casino Connections magazine (September 19, 2019 issue), sportsbooks in the United States are reporting brisk business as the National Football League (NFL) season kicks in. Fantasy sports betting behemoths FanDuel and DraftKings report that NFL betting by online users has already more than doubled over last year.

The Los Angeles Times (October 10, 2019 issue) reports the global sports betting market in the U.S. continues to surge in popularity. In fact, it’s one of the fastest growing sectors in the world, offering tremendous potential. With the digital revolution in full swing, the sports betting industry continues to undergo dynamic changes, expanding in established markets and forging its way into new ones.

It was the U.S. Supreme Court that unleashed this revolution. On May 14, 2018, the Court reversed a 1992 federal law that banned commercial sports betting in most states. The May 14 ruling legalized an estimated $150 billion in illegal betting on professional and amateur sports made by Americans every year. Because of the ruling, bettors could come out of the closet, no longer being forced to make their wagers offshore or through illicit bookies. To simplify it even more, bets can be placed over mobile devices. Such wagering is now endorsed by lawmakers and sports officials who opposed gambling for so long. No longer do sports bettors have to make an annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas during March Madness or Super Bowl week.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturns the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act to legalize sports betting

The 1992 law that was overturned, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, prohibited states from authorizing sports gambling. A leading sponsor of the 1982 Bill was Senator Bill Bradley (D-New Jersey), the former college and professional basketball star. The purpose of the 1982 law was to save the integrity of sports.The Supreme Court ruled that law to be unconstitutional. According to the majority opinion articulated by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.:

“It is as if federal officers were installed in state legislative chambers and were armed with the authority to stop legislators from voting on any offending proposals. A more direct affront to state sovereignty is not easy to imagine.”

The ruling was warmly greeted by state officials and industry representatives. New Jersey was the biggest cheerleader.

Nowhere has the impact of the court ruling been more apparent than in sports fantasy gambling. Casino Connections, which reported the amount of money spent on a typical (NFL) fall Sunday this year is 12 times more than a year ago. DraftKings, the other major fantasy sports betting site, said the amount of money bet this year was nearly double what it was last year.

According to Nick Bogdanovich, a spokesman for William Hill, a leading national sportsbook, the NFL leads all other sports leagues when it comes to sports betting. Major League Baseball in the National Basketball Association (NBA) games are played almost every day. But if you take individual games, there is so much more bet on pro football, according to Bogdanovich.  There are only 16 (regular season) games and that makes it special.

For Wiglaf readers who would like to get a better idea of the scope of sports gambling, I recommend “Action,” a series on professional gambling from Showtime. The documentary series follows several professional gamblers giving viewers an intimate look at their lifestyles.

About The Author

James T. Berger headshot
James T. Berger, Senior Marketing Writer of The Wiglaf Journal, through his Northbrook-based firm, James T. Berger/Market Strategies, offers a broad range of marketing communications, research and strategic planning consulting services. In addition, he provides expert services to intellectual property attorneys in the area of trademark infringement litigation. An adjunct professor of marketing at Roosevelt University, he previously has taught at Northwestern University, DePaul University, University of Illinois at Chicago and The Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan (BA), Northwestern University (MS) and the University of Chicago (MBA). Berger is an often-published free lance business writer who has developed more than 100 published articles in the last eight years. For more information, visit or telephone him at (847) 328-9633.