Legalized sports betting in Alabama? Supreme Court case could pave way for legal wagering

A case set to go before the U.S. Supreme Court Monday could pave the way for legalized sports betting in every state.

Justices are set to hear oral arguments today in Gov. Chris Christie vs. the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Christie and New Jersey are joined by 19 states in efforts to strike down the law that prevents states from allowing sports betting.

Alabama is not among those joining in the New Jersey case, though surrounding states Florida, Mississippi and Tennessee are.

If New Jersey’s efforts to overturn the decade’s old sports wagering ban are successful, the decision could pave the way for legalized sports betting across the country.

“The 24-year-old federal ban -which is breathing life into a $150 billion illegal sports betting market — threatens the integrity of games, presents fundamental questions about states’ sovereignty to define their own laws and combat crime within their borders, and prevents fans from engaging with the sports they enjoy in a safe, legal way,” American Gaming Association president and CEO Geoff Freeman said. “The United States Supreme Court should consider New Jersey’s important claims and allow all states to address the serious problems associated with illegal sports betting.”

The New Jersey case dates to 2014, when the state passed a law allowing sports gambling at casinos and race tracks. The NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball filed suit to block New Jersey’s plans, citing 1992’s Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act that prevents all states but Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon from offering sports gambling.

If New Jersey’s efforts are successful and sports betting is legalized, experts said other states will follow suit.

The financial stakes are huge.

The AGA estimates sports fans wager about $150 billion illegally a year, including $4.1 billion on the Super Bowl alone. As much as $90 billion will be wagered on NFL and college football games this season, though AGA estimates 98 percent of all bets will be placed illegally.

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