States are betting that Supreme Court will legalize sports wagers

This spring or early summer, the U.S. Supreme Court might legalize sports betting across the country. Missouri and Illinois are among dozens of states where Legislatures are scrambling to get ready.

Missouri, where several legalized sports betting bills already have had committee hearings, is moving faster than Illinois, where gambling-expansion legislation often runs afoul of efforts to expand the casino industry. In Missouri, the key question is how much the state should rake off in taxes. The answer to that, as with all sin taxes, should be “as much as possible.”

Supreme Court oddsmakers are betting that the justices will side with the state of New Jersey when they decide Christie v. NCAA, which would invalidate a 1992 federal law banning states from authorizing and licensing sports betting. In oral arguments heard in December, a majority of the justices appeared sympathetic to New Jersey’s argument that the 10th Amendment prohibits Congress from “commandeering” states into enforcing federal law.

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