The Supreme Court of the United States has struck down a law prohibiting gambling on sports events with a 6-3 ruling that brings an end to a six-year legal battle over the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. As ESPN reports, the ruling opens the door to legal sports betting in any state that wishes to offer it. It is likely to have major implications for esports.
The ruling doesn't mention esports specifically, but given the increasing commingling of conventional sports and esports, it's almost inevitable that the former will lead to the latter. And as attorney and ESG Law founder Bryce Blum pointed out on Twitter, esports gambling is already tremendously lucrative.
The Supreme Court just struck down the primary law restricting sports betting throughout the US.This will have a profound impact on the esports industry and we’re so underprepared for it. ~$5B wagered on esports last year - about to skyrocket. https://t.co/cujCVWKDJQMay 14, 2018
It's also a potentially risky shift, as he explained in follow-up tweets. Match-fixing is an obvious danger, but underage gambling may be a more pronounced issue for esports leagues to grapple with, given that esports audiences probably tend to lean younger than, say, boxing, and age verification through online channels is notoriously iffy. There's also the question of skin gambling, which is different from betting on match outcomes (and against the Steam terms of service), but remains very lucrative and bound to come up the moment any league of meaningful size enables, or even just allows, gambling.
There will be a lot of wrangling and maneuvering ahead, but it's interesting to note that the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which says on its website that it "opposes all forms of legal and illegal sports wagering" because of its "potential to undermine the integrity of sports contests," told the News and Observer that it may take steps to allow gambling on NCAA events. "While we are still reviewing the decision to understand the overall implications to college sports, we will adjust sports wagering and championship policies to align with the direction from the court," chief legal officer Donald Remy said.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, an investor in the esports betting site Unikrn, pointed out in an interview with ESPN that gambling is already legal in numerous countries, and said that with the federal restriction lifted it's now just a matter of "leveraging up" to bring esports gambling to the US. He also hopes that a federal framework will be put into place to manage esports betting, in order to avoid an unnecessarily burdensome patchwork of regulations and requirements.
.@dallasmavs owner and @UnikrnCo investor @mcuban gives his initial thoughts on how SCOTUS’ ruling on Murphy v. NCAA will impact gambling culture and esports gambling. pic.twitter.com/ZCloykUls9May 14, 2018