PASPA, Its Repeal, and the Impact on Sports Betting Regulations in the U.S.

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The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), enacted in 1992, was a federal law that banned sports betting across the United States with a few exceptions. The primary aim was to protect the integrity of sports by preventing states from authorizing or licensing sports betting. However, PASPA’s enactment led to significant unintended consequences, such as the rise of a booming illegal sports betting market. This comprehensive guide explores the origins, impact, and eventual repeal of PASPA, providing insights into the transformed landscape of sports betting regulations in the U.S.

Historical Context of PASPA

Origins and Enactment

PASPA was introduced by U.S. Senator Bill Bradley, a former professional basketball player, on February 22, 1991. The legislation sought to prevent the spread of state-sanctioned sports gambling, which many believed could compromise the integrity of professional and amateur sports. The Act was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on October 28, 1992, and it took effect on January 1, 1993.

Provisions and Exemptions

PASPA made it unlawful for states to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize any form of betting or wagering on competitive sporting events. However, there were notable exemptions. Nevada was allowed to continue its sports betting operations, and Oregon, Delaware, and Montana were permitted to continue their sports lotteries and parlay betting systems. New Jersey was given a one-year window to legalize sports betting within its borders but failed to pass legislation in time, setting the stage for future legal battles.

Impact on Illegal Sports Betting

Despite PASPA’s intentions, the Act did not eliminate sports betting but pushed it underground, where it was controlled by illegal bookies and offshore betting sites. This shadow economy thrived without regulation or oversight, denying states potential tax revenue from legalized sports betting. The estimated size of the illegal sports betting market in the U.S. reached billions of dollars annually.

The Road to Repeal

Legal Challenges

Over the years, PASPA faced multiple legal challenges, primarily on the grounds that it infringed upon states’ rights to regulate gambling within their borders. New Jersey spearheaded the most significant challenge, aiming to legalize sports betting to revitalize its struggling casinos and racetracks.

Supreme Court Decision

On May 14, 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) that PASPA was unconstitutional. The Court’s decision was grounded in the Tenth Amendment, which protects states from federal overreach by preventing Congress from commandeering state legislatures to enforce federal regulations. This landmark ruling effectively lifted the federal ban on sports betting, allowing states to legalize and regulate sports wagering independently.

Immediate Impact on State Legislation

Following the repeal of PASPA, numerous states swiftly moved to legalize sports betting. New Jersey was one of the first, launching its sports betting market in June 2018. Other states, including Delaware, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, quickly followed suit. As of 2024, over 30 states and the District of Columbia have legalized sports betting, each developing its regulatory framework to manage the industry.

Key Players in the Repeal of PASPA

New Jersey: The Driving Force

New Jersey was the primary force behind the legal battle against PASPA. The state’s efforts began with a non-binding referendum in 2011, where voters showed overwhelming support for legalizing sports betting. Despite initial setbacks in federal courts, New Jersey persisted. The state’s determination culminated in the Supreme Court case Murphy v. NCAA, leading to the repeal of PASPA.

Major Sports Leagues: From Opposition to Support

Initially, major sports leagues such as the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, and NCAA staunchly opposed the legalization of sports betting. However, over time, some leagues began to shift their stance. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver emerged as a supporter of regulated sports betting, arguing that a legal, regulated framework would better protect the integrity of sports and generate significant economic benefits. Following PASPA’s repeal, several leagues quickly adapted, forming partnerships with betting operators and integrating sports betting into their business models.

Advocacy Groups: The Role of the American Gaming Association (AGA)

The AGA played a crucial advocacy role in the repeal of PASPA, highlighting the economic benefits of legalized sports betting and the importance of regulation to protect consumers and maintain the integrity of sports. The organization conducted extensive lobbying efforts, public relations campaigns, and research to build support for the repeal.

Legal Experts and Law Firms

The legal battle to repeal PASPA involved prominent legal experts and law firms. Paul Clement, a former U.S. Solicitor General, represented New Jersey in the Supreme Court case, focusing on the anti-commandeering principle, which ultimately persuaded the Court to rule in favor of New Jersey.

Regulatory Frameworks and Approaches

The repeal of PASPA resulted in a diverse landscape of state-regulated sports betting markets, each with unique regulations, taxation rates, and licensing requirements. Here are some common regulatory models:

  • State Lottery Model: States like Delaware and Rhode Island regulate sports betting through their state lotteries, resulting in fewer operators and higher state control.

  • Commercial Casino Model: States such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania permit commercial casinos to offer sports betting, fostering a competitive market with multiple operators.

  • Tribal Gaming Model: States with significant tribal gaming operations, including New Mexico and Michigan, involve tribes in regulating sports betting.

  • Online and Mobile Betting: Several states, recognizing the revenue potential of online and mobile sports betting, have established robust markets with numerous operators, as seen in New Jersey, Colorado, and Tennessee.

Economic and Social Impacts

Economic Benefits

Legal sports betting has generated substantial tax revenue for states, created jobs, and driven economic growth in related sectors like tourism and hospitality. States with legalized sports betting have seen substantial economic benefits, including increased tax revenues and job creation. For example, New Jersey and Illinois have reported significant tax revenues from sports betting, which are used to fund public services and infrastructure projects.

Consumer Protection

State regulations have introduced measures to protect consumers, such as age verification, responsible gambling programs, and safeguards against fraud and money laundering.

Market Growth

The legal sports betting market has seen exponential growth, attracting significant investment from major gambling operators and technology companies.

Social Concerns

Despite the benefits, the expansion of sports betting has raised concerns about gambling addiction and its social consequences. States have implemented measures to address these issues, including funding for addiction treatment and public awareness campaigns.

Economic Impact of Legalized Sports Betting

Revenue Generation

States with legalized sports betting have experienced substantial increases in tax revenues. For example, New Jersey generated over $300 million in tax revenue from sports betting in its first year of legalization. This revenue is used to fund state projects, public services, and other governmental needs. Additionally, in 2022, the federal government collected approximately $953 million in tax revenue from online sportsbooks.

Job Creation

The legalization of sports betting has also led to the creation of numerous jobs, spanning various sectors including technology, marketing, customer service, and operations.

Boost to Related Industries

Legalized sports betting has had a positive ripple effect on related industries such as hospitality, tourism, and media. Casinos and sportsbooks attract tourists, leading to increased occupancy rates in hotels and higher revenues for local restaurants and entertainment venues. The demand for sports betting-related content has led to partnerships between media companies and betting operators, enhancing viewer engagement and generating additional revenue streams.

Real-Life Examples of State Impacts Following PASPA Repeal

New Jersey: A Pioneering Force

New Jersey was at the forefront of the legal battle against PASPA, and its efforts paid off tremendously. By 2023, New Jersey had become one of the largest sports betting markets in the United States, generating substantial tax revenues that are funneled into public services, including education and infrastructure.

Pennsylvania: Robust Market Expansion

Pennsylvania quickly followed New Jersey’s lead, legalizing sports betting in late 2018. By 2024, Pennsylvania had become a major player in the industry, with significant contributions to state tax revenues.

Mississippi: Regional Leader

Mississippi allowed its riverboat and land-based casinos to offer sports betting, creating a new revenue stream. The state’s approach has been particularly impactful in boosting tourism and local economies in casino regions.

Colorado: Embracing Online Betting

Colorado legalized sports betting in May 2020, adopting a model that heavily incorporates online and mobile platforms. This approach has proven highly successful, with online betting accounting for a significant portion of the state’s betting handle.

Indiana: Economic Catalyst

Indiana launched its sports betting market in September 2019, quickly becoming one of the top states in terms of betting handle and tax revenue. The state’s inclusive regulatory approach has provided ample opportunities for market growth.

Tennessee: Unique Mobile-Only Model

Tennessee’s mobile-only sports betting model, launched in November 2020, has allowed the state to quickly establish a strong market presence without the need for physical sportsbooks.

Michigan: Integrating Tribal and Commercial Interests

Michigan’s sports betting market, launched in March 2020, integrates both tribal and commercial interests, creating a diverse and competitive market.

Nevada: Continued Leadership

Nevada continues to lead in terms of betting handle, remaining a benchmark for regulatory practices despite increased competition from other states.

New York: Balancing Expansion and Regulation

New York legalized sports betting in 2019, initially focusing on upstate casinos and later expanding to include mobile sports betting, which launched in January 2022.

Challenges and Future Directions

Regulatory Inconsistency

The patchwork of state regulations creates challenges for operators navigating multiple legal frameworks.

Integrity of Sports

Ensuring the integrity of sports remains critical, requiring collaboration between states, operators, and sports leagues to monitor and prevent match-fixing and other corrupt activities.

Federal Oversight

While sports betting is primarily regulated at the state level, there are discussions about potential federal oversight to create uniform standards and address interstate issues.

Technological Advancements

Rapid technological advancements, including blockchain and AI, present both opportunities and challenges. These technologies can enhance transparency and efficiency but require updated regulatory approaches.

Economic Growth and Technological Innovation

Legalizing sports betting has led to significant economic growth and technological innovation. States that have embraced sports betting have seen the creation of thousands of jobs and substantial tax revenues. Furthermore, the industry has driven technological advancements in consumer protection and responsible gambling.

The Future of Sports Betting in the U.S.

Technological Advancements

Mobile betting apps, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), and cryptocurrency are set to transform the sports betting experience, providing more interactive, secure, and personalized betting environments.

Expanding Legalization

As more states consider legalizing sports betting, the market’s growth is expected to continue. States like New York and California are significant markets to watch, with substantial economic benefits anticipated from increased tax revenues and job creation.

International Comparisons

The U.S. can learn from established sports betting markets in Europe, particularly in-play betting, which is highly popular in Europe. Global market trends indicate significant growth potential for the U.S. sports betting industry.


The repeal of PASPA has transformed the sports betting landscape in the United States, ushering in a new era of state-regulated sports wagering. While the industry continues to evolve, the focus remains on balancing economic benefits with consumer protection and maintaining the integrity of sports. As more states consider legalizing sports betting, the lessons learned from early adopters will shape the future of betting regulations in the U.S.


  1. WikipediaProfessional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA)
  2. The LinesPASPA Overview and History
  3. Gambling LawsPASPA and Its Exceptions
  4.’s Legal Challenges and Repeal
  5. WSN (World Sports Network)New Jersey’s Role in PASPA Repeal
  6. Legal Sports ReportImpact of PASPA Repeal on Sports Leagues
  7. The National Law ReviewMurphy v. NCAA and Its Implications
  8. FOX SportsMajor Sports Leagues and Sports Betting
  9. American Gaming Association (AGA)Economic Benefits of Legal Sports Betting
  10. University of Arizona RepositoryEconomic Impact of Sports Betting
  11. LSA Technology ServicesTax Revenues from Online Sportsbooks
  12. Office of the Attorney General (New Jersey)New Jersey Sports Betting Market
  13. Cato InstituteRegulatory Frameworks in Sports Betting
  14. IMGL (International Masters of Gaming Law)State-Specific Sports Betting Regulations
  15. iGaming BusinessExpanding Legalization of Sports Betting
  16. NerdBotTechnological Advancements in Sports Betting
  17. Goldman SachsEconomic Benefits of Sports Betting
  18. QWERTYLABSGlobal Market Trends in Sports Betting
  19. DataSportsBetsAI and Personalization in Sports Betting

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. While we strive to keep the information accurate and up-to-date, it may not reflect the most current legal developments. For specific legal advice tailored to your situation, please consult with an attorney.

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