On May 14, the United States Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a 1992 law that made most sports betting illegal in most parts of the country. Delaware, Oregon, Montana and Nevada were given exemptions for sports betting that was already in place in those states but the states could not expand wagering beyond those exemptions. The Supreme Court overturned the law as the high court felt that the law infringed on a state’s right to regulate commerce within its own borders. Delaware was the first state to legislate and expand sports betting due to the state’s existing legal and regulatory structure already in place for the state’s exemption for multi-game wagering on National Football League games.
With the regulatory and legal structures in place for the state’s multi-game wagering on NFL contests in place for the betting on NFL games, Delaware state legislators were able to react quickly to the changes made by the court’s ruling. Gamblers in Delaware can now make single-game wagers on professional games of baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, golf and auto racing. Bettors in the state can now also make single-game wagers on National League Football games instead of the multi-game wagers that were legal in the state.
Delaware’s Governor, Democrat John Carey, made the state’s first single game bet under the new legislation when he placed a $10 bet on the Philadelphia Phillies over the Chicago Cubs in that days MLB contest and won the bet when the Phillies won the game. Pro sports wagering in available at the state’s three casinos; Delaware Park, Dover Downs and Hamilton casinos. All three casinos plan to make the most of the new betting freedom and expand the wagering offered at those casinos.
Where there is money to be made, the Internal Revenue Service of the United States is there to get a share of any winnings. Players who have winnings of over $5,000 in a single wager can expect the payee, in this case, the casino, to withhold up to 24 percent of those winnings to cover the potential taxes due from those winnings at the end of the year. Tax laws still allow taxpayers who gamble to count any betting losses against winnings when claiming gambling income on federal taxes. Filers who wish to do this must itemize each cost and win individually on their tax forms, making it an onerous task that most casual gamblers will not file the losses against any taxable wins. Professional gamblers will want to itemize losses against gains but face new federal tax laws that no longer professional gamblers to write travel to and from casinos as a business expense and instead are allowed to claim travel costs as a loss when filing gambling income.
While Delaware is the first to take advantage of the change in laws, it must still compete with sports wagering in Nevada that has been in place due to Nevada’s exemption for the original legislation that allowed extensive sports betting in the gambling mecca of Las Vegas and the rest of the state of Nevada. Both states will soon have more competition as other states take advantage of the Supreme Court decision. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Mississippi legislatures are already working to make single-game betting available in those states. Gamblers across the United States will gain more options as more state legislatures scramble to put the legal and regulatory safeguards in place and offer sports betting in their states. While some states will opt to keep sports betting illegal, most Americans will have opportunities to bet on games a short distance away in other states.