Supreme Court strikes down sports gambling ban, legalized sports betting coming soon

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The United States Supreme Court today struck down a law that outlawed sports gambling in nearly every state. The ruling will result in legalized gambling all over the United States. You can read the decision here.

The law was known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA). Only Nevada — which had legal sports gambling before its passage and was grandfathered in — was exempt. The State of New Jersey wanted to legalize sports gambling too and challenged it as unconstitutional, bringing suit in 2009. The lawsuit claimed, among other things, that PASPA unconstitutionally discriminated among the states. While I have not read the Supreme Court’s decision on this yet, that claim is pretty facially compelling, as is the argument that regulation of gambling is a state matter pursuant to the Tenth Amendment. I’m not a big fan of gambling, and I rarely agree with the current court’s view of things, but PASPA always felt like Federal overreach to me. The decision is not surprising and, I suspect correct on the merits in an absolute sense.

What this means now: all states who want to offer legalized sports gambling to the public will pass laws allowing that to happen one way or another. As we’ve noted here several times in recent months, that effort has long been underway, complicated in part by a frankly ridiculous lobbying effort by the sports leagues, including Major League Baseball. While at first they opposed legalized sports betting, in the past year or so it has dawned on them that they can maybe make some money off of this, so they’ve been pressuring states to give them a cut of the action. As of yet no state has agreed to do so because, um, what possible basis does Rob Manfred and the other commissioners have to claim that cut? My discussion of that can be read here, here and here.

Obviously there is and long has been an illegal sports gambling industry, greatly facilitated by the Internet and offshore businesses running the book. That will no doubt continue, if for no other reason, than any state regulated gambling operation will involve hoops, regulations and costs that make black market options desirable. If you’re betting on 15 games a day, you probably already have plenty of options. For those who find themselves in casinos or race tracks from time to time, however, and simply want to place a bet here or there, you’ll soon be able to do so without traveling to Nevada.

Report: Some MLB teams using outside labs for COVID-19 testing

MLB COVID-19 testing
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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Zach Buchanan report that the Diamondbacks are one of several teams that have used labs other than the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Utah to process COVID-19 testing. MLB has encountered delays with its testing, despite promising 24-hour turnaround time, so teams have tried other avenues — with the league’s endorsement — in order to get faster results.

The SMRTL had processed performance-enhancing drug screenings for MLB. The league converted it to process COVID-19 tests amid concerns that having a season and all of the testing that would be required throughout would take away testing resources from the general public. That some teams are utilizing labs other than the SMRTL suggests the league, indeed, is usurping those resources.

In prospect Seth Beer’s case, he tested positive for COVID-19. He needed to test negative twice consecutively to be cleared to return to play. Beer went to a third-party site in the Phoenix area. He received his second negative test and was cleared to return on July 9.

The Diamondbacks said that the labs they have used have assured them that they are not taking away tests from the public. That seems like a claim MLB and the D-Backs should demonstrably prove. Per Rosenthal and Buchahan, the D-Backs have gone to an outside lab about 20 times, which accounts for less than one percent of COVID-19 tests taken by players and staff. Still, those are 20 tests that could have been used by the general public. And if the D-Backs and a handful of other teams already are using outside labs, then the rest of the league likely already is or soon will be doing the same. In the end, there will be a lot more than 20 tests taken at outside labs by MLB players and staff. Considering that “Tier 1” players will be tested every other day throughout the season, the total of third-party tests taken — if things continue the way they are now — could easily reach into the thousands by the end of October.

We all want baseball back, but the players, coaches, and all other staff are no more important than cashiers, teachers, and delivery drivers, so they shouldn’t have more access to COVID-19 testing simply by virtue of being associated with Major League Baseball and all of its influence and financial muscle. It would be unethical for MLB to be cutting in line ahead of other people who need testing just as much as if not more than the players.