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Sports betting in Wisconsin: What you need to know after the Supreme Court’s decision
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Sports betting in Wisconsin: What you need to know after the Supreme Court’s decision

by | Jun 4, 2018 | Wisconsin Law

Excited woman celebrating in a bar after a successful sportting bet

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that the 1992 federal ban on sports betting was unconstitutional. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), was meant to protect people from the damaging effects of sports betting and to defend the integrity of sports. Twenty-six years later, PASPA is history and sports betting looks to be the future.

A lot has changed in six years of legislation, but the main points are:

  • New Jersey, 2012: Governor Christie signs legislation legalizing sports betting.
  • Several national sports leagues (NCAA, NBA, NHL, MLB) file a lawsuit.
  • The Supreme Court decides to hear the case.
  • Six years after Gov. Christie’s original legislation, the Supreme Court rules that the 1992 act was unconstitutional.
  • Individual states now have the authority to allow sports gambling.

What this means for Wisconsin

Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Wisconsin state constitution prohibits sports gambling. Depending on where you stand, that could be good news or bad news. However, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos recently reminded constituents that the constitution can be amended. Although he says it’s “a huge hurdle”, it’s an option that Wisconsin lawmakers may choose to pursue.

As other states move to allow sports gambling, what does this mean for Wisconsin? What are the odds that things will change (gambling pun intended)?

With an estimated $150 billion in illegal wagers each year, participating states stand to pull in a portion of that profit. But drawing sports gambling out of the dark market where it’s lived for so long, means that states allowing the practice will have to make decisions about regulation that will impact profit margins. There will be a number of arguments presented in favor of allowing legal gambling and against making gambling legal, and no clear answer about which argument will prevail is in sight.

One guarantee about the Supreme Court’s ruling: all states will now have to revisit their stand on sports gambling. On the upside, Wisconsin’s constitutional prohibition on sports betting means that the state will have a chance to observe how things go in other states before deciding on any course of action.

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