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Why is illegal gambling illegal? The centennial history of the United States

A Supreme Court decision in May 2018 opened the door to legalized sports bets in the United States, but did not make it legal by itself. All the court did was to eliminate a federal ban on more states allowing sports play. Why no more of them already allowed it?

Sports betting has been illegal in most of the country for generations. Let's start at the horse track a couple of centuries ago.

We have to go way back, before the United States was actually the United States. The first horse racing track in the United States was established in 1665. Before the Revolutionary War, which was financed in part through lottery revenues, many in the colonies considered themselves British subjects. As such, it makes sense that many things are imported from the other side of the pond. Some of those things were cultural basics, like horse racing. The sport has its roots in the 12th century, and people have been playing horses ever since.

In 1868, horse racing had become a much more organized company in the United States, due to the publication of the American Stud Book, a catalog of all the thoroughbreds of America. But in the early 1900s, book making was banned in the United States and that wave almost killed horse racing.

"You start with the general premise that in most states, gambling of any kind was, by legislative declaration, considered illegal," Dan Etna, co-chairman of the Herrick Sports Law Group, told SB Nation. Feinstein LLP. "Some of these things were deeply ingrained in the DNA of the states, if you will, it was not just the law, as, for example, at a given moment, the state of New York, its constitution prohibited gambling of any kind. . "

Mutual bets became the lifeline for horse racing and an acceptable alternative for punters across the country.

In essence, pari-mutuel bets eliminate bets against "the house" and place all bets in a reserve, effectively facing each other. The first machines appeared in the Kentucky Derby at the beginning of the 20th century. The bettors took the pari-mutuel game quickly, finding it preferable to somehow bet with the bookmakers. From the beginning of the 20th century:

Accustomed to years of speculation with blackboards, most runners would definitely prefer to keep betting in the old familiar way. But it seems quite evident, after two months of experience with the machines here and in Louisville, that the public will soon be so used to the mutuels that they will bet as freely on the machines as they would on the books. If the mutuals practically eliminate the unpleasant chatter of fraud that was issued and that often became scandals that provoked the most violent action on the part of the reformers, and again to some extent restore the sport of kings to their former state, When it was a game of knights, you will have achieved a lot.

But outside of horse racing, gambling continued to develop an unpleasant representative.

The laws of gangster boasting during the Prohibition ensured that alcohol, violence and the creation of bets would go hand in hand in public consciousness. The Baseball Black Sox scandal, where members of the White Sox moved to fix the 1919 World Series, did not do favors for the industry either. It became a predetermined way for sports decision-makers to say no to gambling in rounds of integrity. The leagues toed that party line for the next century.

Gambling became legal in Nevada in 1949. But sportsbooks were bled to death because of a 10 percent cut that the federal government took away from them, which would back off.

Remarkable scandals of shaving points at CCNY in 1951, North Carolina and NC State in 1961, Boston College in 1978, and Tulane in 1985, as well as the Pete Rose baseball scandal, did little to engineer good faith between the game and organized sports. Lawmakers put laws on the books to curb the practice of gambling again, most notably the Federal Wire Act of 1961.

The law made it illegal to place bets or share information about them through wires through state lines. Congress passed a handful of other laws related to travel, mail and gaming materials that forced interstate betting operations to close their doors or stop working.

But in the late 1970s, the National Game Policy Review Commission came to the conclusion that two-thirds of the country played and 80 percent approved of the game. The commission raised its hands and said that "gambling is inevitable" and that enforcing the laws against it was "impossible". However, the group said that the laws of gambling on books should remain in force.

Professional leagues were adamant that gambling was bad for their games, building their arguments around integrity.

And that's how we ended up with PASPA, which served as a general ban on sports gambling in a federal law, even though most states already forbid it. PASPA, signed in 1992, required states to tell the government within a year if they wanted to have sports bets within their borders. If they said yes, they would be protected. Nevada opted for a full set of gambling opportunities. Oregon, Montana and Delaware wanted to have more limited options. The other 46 states would not have sports bets at all.

The commissioners spoke in front of the legislators in the period prior to the passage of PASPA. They included then-NBA boss David Stern, who called the sport game a "national problem." New Jersey voters said in a 2011 referendum that they wanted sports betting, with the idea that they could help a troubled casino industry in Atlantic City.

The NCAA and other major sports leagues successfully demanded and blocked implementation, but the Supreme Court has considered PASPA a legislative exaggeration on the part of the federal government. A majority of the judges bought New Jersey's argument that Congress had "requisitioned" the power of state regulation by prohibiting states from legislating the issue.

Some states will remain in the game, but many will not.

The process will not be overnight, but dominoes are expected to start falling soon. New Jersey should have a sports betting infrastructure in place before the 2018 football season. Pennsylvania, Connecticut, West Virginia and Mississippi also have current laws that they can implement as a result of the court's decision. Many more states have submitted bills in their legislatures and are likely to legalize sports betting at some point. Expect others, such as Utah, to maintain their prohibitions on sports play on books in perpetuity.

But the point is that states can now decide for themselves. If you wish, you can let your residents do something that has its roots in the foundation of the United States: bet on sports.

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