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Supreme Court clears way for states to legalize sports betting

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Supreme Court on Monday struck down a federal ban against sports betting, allowing states like New Jersey to regulate the wagers in an effort to draw tourism and tax revenue.

The 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act barred state-authorized sports gambling with some exceptions. It made Nevada the only state where a person could wager on the results of a single game.

Major sports leagues including the NCAA, NFL and NBA were in favor of the betting ban, but the court found it unconstitutional for the federal government to regulate each individual state on the matter.

“…the choice is not ours to make,” penned Justice Samuel Alito, a native New Jerseyan who wrote the majority opinion. "Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own."

Immediately after the 6-3 decision came down, casino stock prices rose and companies said they planned to get into the sports betting market, pending state regulations. DraftKings CEO told PIX11 they are ready to go live right away with an online platform for sports wagers.

“We have an office in New York and one in Hoboken, New Jersey, now as well,” said Jason Robbins, DraftKings CEO. "So, we’re anticipating New York and New Jersey will be two of the early states with New Jersey probably leading the way and I think having Gov. Murphy’s support is huge.”

One research firm estimated before the ruling that if the Supreme Court were to strike down the law, 32 states would likely offer sports betting within five years.

The court's decision came in a case from New Jersey, which has fought for years to legalize gambling on sports at casinos and racetracks in the state.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy applauded the ruling.

“I am thrilled to see the Supreme Court finally side with New Jersey...I look forward to working with the Legislature to enact a law authorizing and regulating sports betting in the very near future,” Murphy said.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Murphy’s predecessor championed the state’s right to allow sports betting. It was his administration that brought the initial lawsuit.

“I am proud to have fought for the rights of the people of NJ,” Christie tweeted Monday after the ruling.

Christie thought sports betting would be a boon for New Jersey’s ailing Atlantic City casinos and racetracks. Monmouth Park Racetrack has already invested $1 million to expand it’s gaming floor inside the William Hill Race & Sports Bar in anticipation of the ruling.

“We are excited, not just for ourselves, but for sports fans across the country,” said Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill US. "We’re going to get ready to open for business at Monmouth Park as soon as responsibly possible.”

The major sports leagues are now calling for regulations.

The MLB said its “most important priority is protecting the integrity of our games."

But some in professional sports celebrated the decision, including Ted Leonsis, owner of the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the WNBA’s Washington Mystics and the NHL’s Washington Capitals.

"It brings a multibillion dollar industry out of the shadows and into the sunlight,” he said.