May 14, 2018 has the chance to go down as one of the most important dates in the history of sports.
For those who may have somehow missed it, the Supreme Court has just ruled to strike down a federal law that prohibits sports gambling, ESPN's David Purdum reported.
To be more specific, in a vote of 6–3, the Supreme Court decided to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992.
So, what does this decision mean?
Well, the most important thing it does is lift restrictions on which states can provide access to legal sports gambling.
The Supreme Court elaborated on the landmark decision via a written opinion. According to the court, Congress will have the opportunity to regulate the sports gambling industry if it so desires. However, if Congress opts not do so, then the states themselves will be the ones to determine what they want to do with regards to sports gambling.
With this ruling now handed down, it means that the states that desire to provide sports gambling will now be able to do exactly that.
Currently, the states expected to take advantage of the ruling are Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Whether other states will follow remains unclear at this point in time.
The aforementioned states could stand to make plenty of money from establishing their own legal gambling frameworks.
As Purdum noted in his report, in excess of $4.8 billion were wagered at Nevada sportsbooks last year, and it's possible that other states may now cut into that.
Of course, it's not just the states that will be significantly affected by this ruling.
The major sports leagues themselves are going to have to adjust as well.
In a statement, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said that the league is "in favor of a federal framework that would provide a uniform approach to sports gambling in states that choose to permit it, but we will remain active in ongoing discussions with state legislatures." Silver added that their focus as a league is still on maintaining the integrity of the games played.
The MLB provided a statement of its own which echoed the NBA's sentiment on prioritizing the integrity of the games themselves. Furthermore, the MLB stated that they will continue to "seek the proper protections for our sport," while acknowledging that this ruling is going to have "profound effects."
The NFL's statement notes that the league is similarly focused on preserving the integrity of their games.
Speaking of the NFL, Villanova University director of sports law, Andrew Brandt, recently pointed out to NPR that an average NFL fan who does not bet on games watches about 15–16 games a year, which is equivalent to a full season's set of games for a non-playoff team. Interestingly enough, Brandt notes that someone who bets on games typically watches 45–50 games per year.
Whether teams will take advantage of that perceived uptick in fan engagement with sports betting involved remains unclear.
In any case, the lawmakers, the states and even the sports leagues themselves will still need to sort all of these things out.
The one thing that is certain though, is that sports betting is going to change significantly.