The Future of Legal Sports Gambling and the Media

Thursday night was a night to remember for D.C sports fans. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, the Washington Capitals hockey team took home its first ever Stanley Cup championship. As incredible as it felt to win, imagine the possibilities if it had been legal to gamble on the night’s victory.

Sports betting was once an impossible fantasy; however, in May, the Supreme Court issued a ruling on Murphy v. NCAA, a case which argued that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), was unconstitutional. SCOTUS ruled 6-3 in favor of Murphy, which has made it legal going forward for individual states to decide if they want to legalize sports betting.

Since then, it’s been a slow and steady process. On Tuesday, Delaware became the first state since the ruling to legalize sports betting. Those who are over 21 can place bets on professional and amateur sports, even though those over 18 have always been able to legally bet on horse racing.

“Security will [now] stand at self serve betting terminals carding bettors,” said Steve Keeley, reporter for FOX 29 Philadelphia, on Twitter.

Non-Delaware residents will be able to legally gamble as soon as they’re across the border. Popular casinos such as the Dover Downs Casino in Delaware have seen an influx of customers since the state legalized sports gambling. Bets can now be placed on football, hockey, basketball and golf at 11-10 odds, which means if someone bets $11 that a team will win a game, they will earn $10 back. According to, the total betting handle on launch day added up to $322 million. On the same day, stock for Dover Downs Casino rose 18 percent.

Expected states to soon legalize gambling include New Jersey, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Eager gambling can track state’s progress on, which has set up a tracker that tells the reader when a bill was introduced and/or passed. So far, only Nevada and Colorado are ticked with the red “Full Scale Legalized Sports Betting” icon.

This news has huge implications for media, as outlets like ESPN will have an increased focused on sports betting.

Some predict that nationwide sports betting will most likely lead to larger audiences and higher ratings for live sports across the board. As for shows that weigh into analysis, reporters and their outlets will have to make big decisions about how to approach their broadcasts in the context of the new laws.

Outlets may choose to completely cash in on the new betting environment, tailoring their programs and even live broadcasts to appeal to the potential influx of viewers; however, this could trigger retaliatory regulations by both the federal and state governments. Democratic congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) has already begun pushing the GAME Act (Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act of 2017) to ensure that consumer protections are in place following the Supreme Court’s decision.

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