US Supreme Court decision paves way for European gambling companies and expansion of state powers
The US Supreme Court has recently handed down a decision which could lead to sports gambling becoming legalised in the United States but is really about much more than that. This is of particular interest to European sports gambling businesses such as PaddyPower and William Hill who have long sought to grow international operations notably in the US given the lucrative nature of sports books in Nevada and New Jersey where sports gambling is currently legal.
Interestingly, the Supreme Court rendered no opinion on the merits of sports gambling, but used the case to signal its continuing efforts to shift powers back to the individual states.
For those not familiar with US constitutional law, the case illustrates the tension between US state and federal powers. The 10th Amendment to the US Constitution states than any power not expressly delegated to the federal government belongs to the states. This is why the more liberal US Supreme Court decisions from the 60s and 70s relied on the Constitution's commerce clause, something the more conservative justices that comprise the court are loathe to do and makes the decision much more understandable.
In citing the 10th Amendment to strike down the Federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act 1992, the Supreme Court's decision enables individual states to draw up their own legislation to legalise sports gambling.
For this reason we would recommend that when doing business in a regulated field, or even having employees in a particular US state, that you consult with counsel in that state instead of relying on an assumption that there are federal laws that apply. We will of course continue to monitor how the legislature of each individual state will look to implement the ruling, and how that might affect clients looking to exploit this new opportunity.
In addition to sports, media, gambling and advertising expertise, Fieldfisher routinely partners with the best US law firms and can easily tap into its network of US lawyers and law firms to help your company navigate this increasingly complex issue of federal vs. states rights.