Landmark Supreme Court decision legalizes sports betting

For years, people have told you that sports betting is illegal. Unless you go to Las Vegas, Nevada, you can't wager money on the outcome of games.

That has not stopped people from doing it. Even that office pool regarding who wins the Super Bowl could have breached gambling laws. You certainly were not able to legally put down $1,000 on the over/under or the spread.

That all changes in 2018. Now you can bet anywhere you want. The Supreme Court changed the landscape of American sports dramatically, right during the NBA and NHL playoffs.

PASPA

The law that made sports betting illegal outside of Vegas and a handful of minor locations was called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). It passed back in 1992 and has now held up for more than 20 years. President George Bush Sr. signed it into law.

The idea at the time, proponents claimed, was that betting on sports would ruin the fun and honesty in sports, turning them into simply a way to make money.

There is, of course, a certain amount of irony here. Sports is big business. It rakes in billions. None of the major sports are geared around the "love of the game" alone. Certainly, people do love sports and enjoy playing them, but it's impossible to say that money isn't the focus of the business of sports.

Plus, with betting already legal in Las Vegas, those who wanted to use sports as a way to make -- or lose -- money already had a way to do it. Now they can just do it in Maryland or any other state.

Illegal betting

Now that the Supreme Court has overruled PASPA due to lawsuits focused in New Jersey, betting becomes legal. That does not mean it is new. Reports show that illegal betting already took place an incredible amount of the time.

For instance, the American Gaming Association claims that around $150 billion ends up in sports bets every single year. They also claim that about 3 percent legally happens in Las Vegas and other such locations, while 97 percent of that $150 billion goes to previously illegal betting.

People often used off-shore websites, for instance, or illegal sports books within their own states. The rise of the Internet -- barely a factor back in 1992 -- changed the way people approached sports gambling. This new ruling may simply make it easier for people who were betting anyway to place those bets legally.

Your rights

For those interested in sports betting, this is a massive shift in nationwide laws. It will be very important to keep an eye on the process and to understand your legal rights and obligations -- such as paying taxes -- when making bets.

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