Supreme Court to decide if more states can legalize sports betting


A board displays odds for different bets for the fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor at the Westgate Superbook sports book on Aug. 24, 2017 in Las Vegas. John Locher / AP file

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New Jersey wants to allow only certain types of sports betting, at casinos and racetracks, by bettors who are at least 21. Other states would be sure to follow if New Jersey prevails in court.

The justices will decide the case by late June.

Jeff Ifrah, a Washington lawyer who’s an expert in gambling laws, says roughly a dozen states are preparing legislation that would authorize sports betting if the federal law is struck down.

“I’ve never seen a legislature actually pass gambling legislation in advance of a court decision,” he said. “So that’s pretty remarkable.”

Connecticut, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania have now passed their versions of the legislation, and that number could easily grow to 20 if New Jersey prevails, Ifrah said.

Shawn Fluharty, a West Virginia lawmaker who has sponsored sports gambling legislation, says he believes his state would be one of the first to offer sports betting if the Supreme Court permits it. The Democrat says sports gambling is “a way to raise new revenue without raising taxes.”

New Jersey resident Vito Paolantonio, who was at Monmouth Park Racetrack’s bar last week, said he’d wager on sports if he could in the state.

“I’m a 52-year-old male who loves sports,” he said. “If we were here and I was watching a game, I would absolutely throw in a few dollars to make it more interesting. I think as a middle-class American, a lot of others would do the same.”