When a landmark 2018 Supreme Court decision said sports betting bans were unconstitutional, many people assumed that sports betting would start happening everywhere. However, it’s a few years later, and many areas still outlaw sports betting. It is helpful to learn a little about the history of sports betting to gain a better understanding of why it is still illegal.
Anti-Gambling Laws Go Back to the United States’ Religious Roots
The whole reason so many states have strict anti-gambling laws goes back to the founding of the nation. At the time, gambling was seen as immoral and potentially dangerous, so very strict laws were put in place against it. Sports betting might not be quite like traditional gambling, but culturally, it still tends to be associated with mobs, booze, and sketchy behavior. Though most people in modern times do not have the same intense moral objections to gambling, it can be hard to shake tradition. Once a law has been in place for centuries, getting rid of it can take a little extra effort.
Many Sports Leagues Lobby Against Betting
Puritans are not the only group firmly against sports betting. In modern times, the biggest enforcer of betting bans tends to be sports leagues themselves. The problem with betting is that it may provide incentives to adjust the outcomes of games. There have been all sorts of major betting scandals, such as the 1919 scandal involving White Sox members fixing the World Series. Therefore, many sports leagues fear that players will only try their hardest if they keep sports betting away from their games.
Sports Betting Bans Are Now Left Entirely Up to the Individual States
All of this suspicious atmosphere around sports betting eventually led to federal attempts to ban sports betting. This legislation was struck down by the Supreme Court due to being an overreach of federal powers. After the Supreme Court decision, the legality of sports betting was left entirely up to individual states. Some states, like New Jersey, have chosen to move ahead with legislation that allows state-run sports betting. However, others have chosen to keep gambling prohibitions on their books for now. In the future, more states might start to slowly legalize sports betting.