PASPA, the American Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, that banned state-authorized sports gambling in every state that did not already meet legalized sports betting by 1991, was recently repealed. 'So is sports betting legal all of a sudden?' and 'How can I join?' are probably your first questions, but not so fast. Congress first has to decide if it will regulate sports gambling directly to ensure laws are the same across the country but if it decides not to do so, each state is free to establish its own laws which makes it a bit more complicated for South African firms who are planning to extend their betting activities overseas.
Sports betting was already legal in some states like Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon. Nevada was the only state that allows single-game wagering. And that is also something William Hill noticed in 2011. The company bought a few betting operations in Nevada, because of the recent news, its shares rose 11%. Paddy Power Betfair has a small legal US sportsbook operation, it saw its share rise in value by 12%. Together with 888, the value of the three London-listed gambling firms surged by more than £1.5bn after the US supreme court lifted the ban.
It is only a matter of time until the other states decide for themselves whether or not they want to legalize sports betting or if they want to restrict it to only land-based casinos and racetracks. Right now, we can only guess what sates will decide and it is still unclear what their tax policy and cuts will be and if the profit margin will be as high as with sports betting in South Africa and Europe.
It is estimated that £110bn-worth of sports bets are placed illegally in the US every year, this might be exaggerated but it cannot be denied that the figure is undoubtedly enormous. Questions are being raised, why has the US held out so long against legalisation because lots of money, in the form of tax revenues, has been lost. The law against sports betting gave rise to a huge illegal gambling industry, most of it was run by organised crime gangs like the mafia. With the ban now lifted, supporters hope the 'new' legislation will critically weaken illegal sports betting operations and will produce revenue for the states.
That is good news for South African companies who want to expand their betting business overseas. It is estimated that South African shares and revenues might go up because of their betting experience and IT systems it has in place to enable sports bets.
Sports betting was also made possible through dozens of sportsbooks in other countries through online betting. Americans could place a sports bet from their phone or computer to sites like 5Dimes (Costa Rica) and Bovada (Latvia).
It is believed that once sports betting has been made 100 percent legal, casinos and racetracks will be the first to introduce these kinds of bets because the infrastructure is already in place, they have designated spaces at their casinos to install the necessary equipment and the target demographic is already at the venue. Later, sports betting will move more online because getting to a casino to place your bets is a hassle. The online programs will become more and more intuitive so everyone will be able to place a bet though your computer or smartphone in a matter of seconds. Even live betting during the games will become easier.
Another question that has been raised is 'Who will pay taxes?'. Will it be the betters, casinos or both? And as leagues might argue that there would be no sports betting without their players, games and championships they might run their own bets or want a cut of the revenue or an integrity fee. Integrity fees would tax the total bet amount whereas right now, casinos only pay taxes on bets they win. Several major US sports bodies, like the National Basketball Association, opposed the integrity fee. The National Collegiate Athletic Association said sports betting is a threat to the integrity of athletic competition.
Only time will tell if sports bets will be made legal across the US or only in certain states. What is clear, however, is that a lot of money can be made with sports bets. Curious about which South African sites offer sports bets? Find out more and read reviews about these companies here.