THE US supreme court removed a nationwide ban on sports betting that has stood for 26 years on Monday.
The federal law that bars gambling on football, basketball, baseball and other sports in most states has stood for over 26 years.
The American Gaming Association estimates that Americans illegally wager about $150 billion on sports each year, however, the court upheld a legal challenge by the state of New Jersey, which argued that the Professional and Amateur Sport Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) was unconstitutional.
The ruling, by seven votes to two, starts a race among British bookmakers and online gambling companies to win customers in the lucrative US market, with individual states now expected to draw up laws to allow sports betting.
The William Hill chief executive, Philip Bowcock, said: “This is a landmark moment for sports betting and for William Hill. Now, all attention shifts to the States, where steps have already been taken to prepare for this day. Legalised sports betting means that consumers and sports leagues will have greater protection, states will benefit from the raising of taxes and there is the potential for over 100,000 jobs to be created.
“We welcome the ruling and expect to be operational in New Jersey as soon as responsibly possible. We are also actively working on opportunities in a number of other states and will update on these opportunities as appropriate,” he said.
Geoff Freeman, the president of the American Gaming Association (AGA), said: “Today’s decision is a victory for the millions of Americans who seek to bet on sports in a safe and regulated manner.”