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What do Recent Changes to Federal Sports Betting Laws Mean for Las Vegas?

Many have worried about how the recent Supreme Court of the United States’ (SCOTUS) decision on legalizing sports betting will affect Nevada and specifically the city of Las Vegas. Thanks to the recent court decision, sports betting is federally legal anywhere in the United States. Experts note that Native American-owned casinos have been around for years and people still hop on a plane to Las Vegas to hit the slots. In short, these experts believe, recent changes to federal sports betting laws will not affect Las Vegas much. Indeed, while some big bettors -- those who put down $20,000 or more on a sports event -- come to Las Vegas to bet on sports, most bettors -- those in the $500 range -- do not come to Las Vegas for sports betting alone.

SCOTUS Decision

The Supreme Court struck down a 1992 federal law prohibiting most states from legalizing sports betting. The ruling, which was 6-3, is seen as a victory for many states that have wanted to authorize sports betting as a way to encourage tourism and increase tax revenue. The federal prohibition was backed by the NBA, the NFL, and the NCAA. The Court found that the 1992 federal law violated constitutional principles. Specifically, those that limit the federal government from controlling state policy. The federal law, according to SCOTUS, unconstitutionally forced states to prohibit sports betting under state law. Essentially, the SCOTUS opinion noted that Congress can regulate sports gambling directly—but, until it does, it is up to the states to do so. Many experts believe the SCOTUS decision will get rid of Nevada’s monopoly on sports betting. The fight for legalizing sports betting began in 2011 when New Jersey voters approved a measure to legalize it in an effort to help casino industries during a bad economy. The state law was immediately challenged by the NCAA, which cited the 1992 federal law prohibiting sports betting with few exceptions to this rule.

Unique Tourist Attraction

Las Vegas has unique attractions for tourists coming from near and far. This is because while tourists used to come to Las Vegas specifically just to gamble, that has not been the case for several years. Casinos have popped up over the years in nearly every state in the nation. People are still visiting Las Vegas, and for more than just gambling. Indeed, no city in a comparable market can offer the experience one has in Las Vegas. This includes a number of casino-resorts that are close to one another and offer such things as bars, nightclubs and dayclubs, restaurants, shows and concerts, adult entertainment, golfing, spas, special events, and conventions. Beyond this, there are several live sporting events that can be seen in Las Vegas including hockey, college basketball, boxing, NBA summer league, and UFC. Statistics show that as much as 26% of visitors coming to Las Vegas in 2017 did not gamble while they were in the city.

Nevada Attorneys

If you have further questions regarding sports betting in Nevada, or any other legal question that needs to be answered, contact the experienced Las Vegas attorneys at Parry & Pfau.

(image courtesy of Ryan Tang)