EARLY IN THE afternoon on June 5, three casinos in Delaware began taking wagers on the outcomes of individual games in a variety of sports--the first time such bets were legal outside of Nevada.
On May 14, the U.S. Supreme Court had sided with the state of New Jersey in the case Christie v. NCAA et al., striking down a 1992 federal law--the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, more commonly known as the Bradley Act--that banned sports betting in most places.
The decision has kicked off a mad dash to legalize at the state level. Four states, including New Jersey, had passed such bills before the Court ruled. Another 15 states have introduced legislation since.
It's not like prohibition was working. Americans made an estimated $123 billion in illegal wagers on sports in 2017. Bringing this form of gambling out of the black market will make it easier for bettors to participate, but the change also makes it possible for leagues to track wagers and spot potential corruption.
And states are already making plans to spend the windfall. Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, included $23.5 million in expected sports gambling revenue in her proposed budget for the next fiscal year, even though the state has yet to legalize. Time will tell whether that gamble pays off.
HOW HAS THE LAW CHANGED?
AN AMERICAN TRADITION 1638 Puritan settlements in Massachusetts outlaw gambling, along with the owning of dice, cards, and other gaming devices. 1799 Denmark Vesey, a slave, wins $1,500 in a Charleston, South Carolina, city lottery and uses the money to purchase his freedom. 1830 All lotteries are banned in United States by federal law (until 1860). 1931 Commercial casinos are legalized in Nevada. 1951 The Johnson Act passes Congress, banning the possession, operation, or maintenance of slot machines (unless permitted by state law). 1964 New Hampshire is the first state to reintroduce a state lottery. 1978 The first commercial casino outside Nevada opens in Atlantic City, New Jersey. 1985 The first multistate lottery links the lotteries of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont...