A decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on the Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) federal lawsuit could come as early as May 14, said American Gaming Association (AGA) president and CEO Geoff Freeman during his keynote speech at the Southern Gaming Summit that took place on May 3 at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi.
According to the Sun Herald newspaper, Freeman, who over the past three years has led what has been an uphill battle for legalized sports betting, says that now not only the fans and the casino industry want it, but law enforcement, mayors and sports leagues all want it as well.
In Christie v NCAA, New Jersey looks to have the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) overturned, allowing state-sponsored sports betting. Originally passed in 1992, PASPA prohibits state-sanctioned sports gambling in all but a handful of states, which has, counterproductive to its intent, allowed illegal sports betting to flourish becoming what the AGA conservatively estimates is a $150 billion a year industry.
At Thursday’s Southern Gaming Summit, sports betting was what everyone was talking about, with Freeman saying that at the time PAPSA was passed, attitudes were very different, sports leagues were dead set against it, and dial-up internet was the technology.
According to the executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, Allen Godfrey, The Magnolia State will “most definitely” be ready to allow fans to wager on the New Orleans Saints, which is for all intents and purposes Mississippi’s NFL team, when the football season begins this season.
Mississippi already has a law in place that will permit sports betting if it is legalized in the U.S., however, the law as written limits sports betting to casinos. So, while in Nevada football fans can place a bet on their mobile phone from anywhere in the state, under the current law, fans in Mississippi would need to find the nearest casino in order to bet on a game, legally, that is.
Godfrey reportedly said that they expect people from neighboring states such as Louisiana, where sports betting legislation died this session, and in Arkansas where currently there aren’t any plans for sports betting in place; to make the trip to Mississippi to take part in what would be legalized sports betting.
He went on to say that for decades bookies have thrived across the country and in Biloxi, and that “Having mobile gaming only here inside the brick and mortar casinos will ensure the future success of the illegal market,” according to the news agency.
Time will tell if Mississippi is primed to become the ‘Las Vegas of the South’ as many in the state predict.
Freeman reportedly said that at the latest, the U.S. Supreme Court should rule by June 30.