Will Virginia take advantage of Supreme Court ruling on sports gambling?

Posted at 11:43 PM, May 14, 2018

RICHMOND, Va. -- In a long awaited ruling, the Supreme Court struck down a 1992 law that banned state authorized gambling. The Court said the Federal law violated the Constitution by taking away a state's rights.

In actuality, it was a landmark decision for sports wagering across the country.

The Virginia Lottery was created in 1987 with the intent of helping to raise money for schools and education in the Commonwealth.

It is a form of gambling but soon, may not be the only form available.

Even though the Supreme Court struck down what is known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, states across the country with the exception of Nevada will have to pass their own legislation governing or prohibiting legal sports wagering.

Virginia has been slow to embrace any form of gambling in it's history, but with neighboring states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia expected to quickly pass laws of their own, money not wagered in Virginia could go elsewhere.

Any proposed state legislation would likely set parameters on sports betting and include a healthy percentage to be collected in state taxes.

"The state will get 20 percent or 10 percent or whatever they work out, that portion for whatever they need in that state," said Bill Watson, a professional sports handicapper.

Watson believes that not only would legalized sports betting raise money for the state and eliminate a good deal of the current illegal betting, but it could also raise the public profile of several sports lagging in attendance.

"You'll get more interest on television," Watson said. "The ratings will go up because of this. It will make the games more interesting."

Opponents worry about the sudden availability to novice gamblers. Bob Cabaniss is the founder of Williamsville Wellness, an addiction center specializing in gambling, and is an admitted former gambling addict himself.

"You've got a Pandora's box that's getting ready to open," Cabaniss explained. "We need to have the right mechanism to help the people who might be addicted."

Governor Ralph Northam said in a statement that his office was reviewing the Supreme Court's ruling and would review any legislation that might come from the General Assembly in the future.

Cabaniss thinks that if Virginia were to legalize sports gambling, the state could take in $100 million in taxes in the first year alone.



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