Questions linger after US Supreme Court sports betting ruling

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — There are plenty of questions left to be answered after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday to strike down a federal law preventing states from legalizing sports betting.

The court ruled 7-2 that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was unconstitutional, allowing states to allow the practice in light of a New Jersey law in favor of sports betting. The West Virginia Legislature passed a bill earlier this year allowing sports betting at casinos in the state as well as through phone apps offered by the facilities.

The Justice administration met last week with representatives of major sports leagues to consider the future of an integrity fee, which would be a portion of wagers placed. State lawmakers have previously said they are not interested in passing such measure.

Daniel Wallach, a gaming and sports attorney, said on MetroNews “Talkline” no two states are going to be similar.

“While every state believes that their state is going to set the precedent or gold standard, next thing you know state number two or state number three go about things a little differently,” he said. “I think the real danger in lacking any kind of consensus with these stakeholders is that you had success legislation that is still not over. You have ongoing discussions that could compromise the rollout of sports betting.”

Wallach said while West Virginia is far along in terms of sports betting, other states could be in more trouble in balancing stakeholder wants.

“If the leagues and the casinos don’t find common ground on these key issues, it could really stall bills in other state legislatures, which could be good for West Virginia,” he said. “It might leave West Virginia among a small handful of states that actually have sports betting this year.”

Wallach said the leagues are credible in arguing their product provides the foundation for sports betting to exist, and have interest in finding common ground with sports leagues.

“I believe the leagues have shown some willingness to negotiate that fee to a lower threshold,” he said.

The decision would require a special legislative session, which Wallach said is an issue considering the backlash to the fee.

“I think however this plays out will be unique to West Virginia and won’t have so much of a spillover in other states where the leagues have been a little more successful in getting the integrity fee and the data monopoly rights built into some of the bills,” he said.

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