What The SCOTUS Sports Betting Decision Means For Nevada

Written By Martin Derbyshire on May 15, 2018
Las Vegas Strip at night

Nevada’s near-monopoly on sports betting is all but over. A fact that will likely stop Nevada sportsbooks from posting record-setting revenues again this year.

On Monday, the US Supreme Court paved the way for states outside Nevada to legalize sports gambling. The court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). PASPA is the 1992 federal law that banned sport betting everywhere outside Nevada. Limited sports gambling in Delaware, Montana, and Oregon had also been exempt from the law.

PASPA declared unconstitutional

In a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court declared PASPA unconstitutional. In the court’s written decision, Justice Samuel Alito said states should be free to make their own choice on sports gambling, opening the door to legalized and regulated sports betting across the country.

Since it was New Jersey taking on PASPA, racetracks, and casinos in that state will likely be the first to start taking bets, and ultimately business from Nevada sportsbooks. But they won’t be the only ones.

Anticipating the Supreme Court would rule in New Jersey’s favor, other states passed legislation making sports betting legal. These states include:

  • Pennsylvania
  • Delaware
  • Mississippi
  • West Virginia

These states should have sports books up and running over the next few months. That means gamblers from states who previously placed sports bets while vacationing in Las Vegas will soon be able to get in on the action locally.

Plus, several other states have considered similar sports gambling legislation over the past few months. The Supreme Court decision may very well give these states the push they need to pass sports betting legislation of their own. The states include:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • New York
  • Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina

No need to travel to Nevada

By the time these, and possibly other states get on board with legal sports gambling, more than half the country won’t need to travel to Nevada to make a legal bet anymore.

Legal sports betting has been hailed as a way to tax and regulate what the American Gaming Association estimates is a $150 billion-a-year illegal sports betting market. Part of the estimated three percent of that money that is bet legally in Nevada every year may be lost in the shuffle as well.

Nevada sportsbooks generated record revenues last year. According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, total revenue from sports wagering reached a record $248.8 million in 2017. The previous record of $231.8 million was set in 2015. In fact, Nevada sportsbook revenues passed the $200 million for the first time in 2013 and haven’t looked back since:

  • 2013: $202.8 million
  • 2014: $227 million
  • 2015: $231.8 million
  • 2016: $219.2 million

The total amount bet in the state, also referred to as handle, reached a whopping $4.87 billion in 2017. A number that also set new records. Nevada sportsbooks handle hit $4.51 billion in 2016. It has been above $4 billion for three straight years.

Growth in mobile wagering

Industry insiders say sportsbooks have enjoyed growth in wagering on every sport. Numbers that can at least in part be attributed to mobile wagering. More than a dozen Nevada sportsbooks now offer mobile apps allowing gamblers to make a bet on their smartphone or other device connected to the internet, including:

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Out-of-state sports betting will be missed

It may be difficult to pinpoint exactly how much money is bet at Nevada sportsbooks by visitors from states that will now have legal sports betting of their own. However, it’s easy to see that at least some percentage of that money won’t be bet at Nevada sportsbooks anymore.

Futures wagers will most definitely be affected. Out-of-state vacationers simply won’t have the need to place a bet on their local team to win the title outside of their home state anymore.

Handle numbers at Nevada sportsbooks will most definitely be down from the record $4.87 billion set last year. Regardless of what mobile wagering does in Nevada, the Supreme Court paving the way for outside states to legalize sports gambling will be the clear answer as to why.

Martin Derbyshire Avatar
Written by
Martin Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire is an award-winning journalist, video and film producer with a decade of experience covering the brick and mortar casino, poker and iGaming industries. He has produced content for top media outlets including PokerNews, Bluff Magazine and PokerListings, and has crossed the globe scooping stories and interviewing major players in all corners of the high-stakes gambling world.

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