Is Repealing PASPA a Losing Proposition For Las Vegas?
Las Vegas has been the gambling capital of the world for half a century or more, and it’s had a federally-granted monopoly on sports betting for the 24 years since the passage of the controversial Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA). An economic boondoggle costing the US economy trillions of dollars (and the US government trillions of taxable dollars) since its inception, PASPA ran its common sense course long ago.
Fortunately, it seems the doctrines of individual and states' rights may have finally caught up.
In early 2018, the Supreme Court is set to hear New Jersey’s challenge of the constitutionality of PASPA on the grounds that the law gives special treatment to certain states – namely that it allows Delaware, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon to offer sportsbooks while no other state can legally take part in that $550 billion (mostly underground) industry.
Of course, Sin City has a decided interest in maintaining its powerhouse presence as the sports betting destination, and there’s no better way to do that than by keeping its monopoly status intact. (Due to strict grandfathering clauses, the three other states exempt from PASPA cannot legally offer the comprehensive sportsbooks or scope of action that Las Vegas provides.) Still, there’s a school of thought that – regardless of what happens in the high court – Las Vegas will maintain its cachet as the number-one sports gambling destination. It’s resort-oriented local culture helps, as it remains a huge holiday and vacation destination, but so does the fact that Las Vegas has been running online sportsbooks locally for some time now.
That infrastructure, claim city officials and industry insiders, will allow the city to be the immediate backbone of national sports betting, its oddsmakers and insights the de facto standard across America. (The Wire Act and UIGEA seem to say different, but maybe those will be the next pieces of web to dissolve.) Regardless of the outcome of New Jersey’s case against PASPA, Las Vegas will be alright.
Unless, of course, it’s the ruling nobody expects.
See, conventional wisdom says that only two conclusions are likely: New Jersey loses its case and PASPA remains the law of the land, or New Jersey wins and PASPA is dropkicked into the dustbin of history.
But there is a third possible outcome. New Jersey could win, having the selective application of law deemed unconstitutional per the Tenth Amendment and the Equal Sovereignty Doctrine, whereupon those four exempt states would be ordered to immediately fall into line with PASPA. Sports betting could be completely banned!
But that last bit probably won’t happen. Sports betting in Nevada is too good for the economy. And even if it did happen, it still wouldn’t matter, because PASPA’s never stopped anyone from betting on anything ever anyway.
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