Pennsylvania Sports Betting

Pennsylvania is quickly becoming a frontier for gambling in the U.S. The state passed sports betting legislation in late 2017 as part of an omnibus bill that included other forms of gambling like online poker and daily fantasy sports (DFS).

While single-game sports betting remains illegal in the U.S. outside of Nevada under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), the ban is being challenged in the US Supreme Court. Should the court rule in favor of the states, Pennsylvania could move forward with its own sports betting regulations.

PA Sports Betting | Supreme Court Case

Lawmakers in Pennsylvania have already passed legislation that would legalize and regulate a sports betting industry. However, their plan is contingent on an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision, which would have to green-light such activity.

The case, Murphy vs. NCAA (formerly Christie vs. NCAA), involves the state of New Jersey contesting a national law restricting sports betting. At issue is the federal government’s authority to regulate commerce among the states set against rights reserved for states by the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

New Jersey didn’t actually win anything when the US Supreme Court agreed to take its case in its ongoing efforts to legalize sports betting inside its borders, but it sure felt like one for the Garden State.

The nation’s highest court granted NJ’s appeal in the case that dates back to 2012 in two separate sports betting laws and strings of court appeals.

The two sides presented their oral arguments to the court on Dec. 4. Now, the Supreme Court will rule once and for all whether PASPA is constitutional.

A finding for the pro sports leagues — the plaintiffs in the case — would result in the status quo, which is a prohibition on single-game wagering outside of Nevada. A finding for New Jersey would mean that the state could offer sports betting in the state. Other states, potentially, could also lift their sports betting bans in that scenario. (PASPA prevents any state from legalizing sports betting, currently.)

New Jersey has argued that the case is a matter of states’ rights. The federal government, NJ argues, is telling states what they can and can’t do with a law that violates the Tenth Amendment. That argument has not proved to be compelling in the lower courts, to date. Pretty much any other form of gambling states are allowed to legalize and regulate.

PA Sports Betting FAQ

What happens next in the Supreme Court case?

Oral arguments for Murphy vs. NCAA (formerly Christie vs. NCAA) were heard by the Supreme Court on Dec. 4, 2017. Many legal experts weighing in post-hearing felt the proceedings went decidedly in favor of the Garden State.

The official date of a ruling is anyone’s guess, but there are potential dates in place. A decision won’t be handed down until Spring 2018. Here’s closer look at the timeline.

Where could I place sports bets if it was legal in PA?

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has regulatory jurisdiction over the state’s sports betting operations. Sports betting licences will becoming available in 2018 to the state’s 12 casinos and racinos. Each will be eligible to apply for a license but will be required to pay a $10 million entry fee plus a 36% tax rate.

How will the Supreme Court ruling have an impact on PA and other states?

If SCOTUS finds that PASPA unconstitutional, it opens the door for any state to legalize and regulate sports betting.

Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Mississippi, West Virginia, and New York have passed laws that would legalize sports betting in the event of a change to PASPA, via the courts or Congress. Many more are likely to follow if New Jersey wins.

What happens to Pennsylvania sports betting if New Jersey loses?

It’s likely that the only way for states to allow sports betting will be for Congress to repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act — the federal law on which the New Jersey case is centered on. Should New Jersey lose the case, or only have PASPA partially revoked, the status quo will persist for Pennsylvania sports betting and states nationwide.