British Bookmakers Buoyed by US Sports Betting Changes

British bookmakers are in a buoyant mood after the US Supreme Court ruled that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was unconstitutional.

Share price up.

Shares rise for the UK’s biggest bookmakers are the US Supreme Court shoots down a longstanding sports betting ban. (Image:

Despite the ruling be most relevant to US states such as New Jersey, bookies this side of the pond will now be looking to cash in on any newly formed sports betting markets. In reviewing the federal law which has been in place since 1992, Supreme Court judges essentially declared that allowing sports betting in some states and not others is unfair.

“Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own. Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not,” reads the May 14 verdict.

States Can Now Decide

Although the ruling on its own doesn’t overturn PASPA, it does mean that states will be able to decide whether or not to tax and regulate the betting industry. When PASPA was first introduced, it didn’t specifically outlaw sports betting as a ban was already in place.

What it did, however, was allow Nevada to regulate and tax the industry. Additionally, because Delaware, Oregon and Montana allowed certain forms of sports betting prior to PASPA, they were exempt from the ban.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been pushing back against this since 2012. After an initial case ruled in favour of the NCAA which opposed state sports betting, subsequent appeals were also unsuccessful.

However, now that the America’s highest court has overturned the most recent Appeals Court verdict by a margin of 6-3, the Garden State will now look to implement its own sports betting regulation. This move will essentially open the floodgates and allow other US states to put in place their own sports betting rules and taxation.

British Bookmakers Braced for a Goldrush

In response to the news, shares in UK bookmakers William Hill, Paddy Power Betfair and GVC have shot up in the wake of the ruling. All three companies have US assets in one form or another and will now be looking to move quickly in establishing their brands in New Jersey and beyond.

“Now, all attention shifts to the states where steps have already been taken to prepare for this day. Legalised sports betting means that consumers and sports leagues will have greater protection, states will benefit from the raising of taxes and there is the potential for over 100,000 jobs to be created,” William Hill CEO Philip Bowcock told The Telegraph.

Although the exact size of the market is unclear, the US has been described as a goldmine for betting companies. What’s more, the timing couldn’t be better for British bookmakers currently awaiting the government’s decision on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

With all the signs suggesting the maximum FOBT stakes will be cut from £100 to a much lower figure, high street bookmakers have been bracing themselves for a sharp decrease in revenue. However, with the Supreme Court ruling in favour of New Jersey and Christie, the future may not be as bleak as previously expected.

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