Bookmakers are looking to cash in on an American betting bonanza after a 26-year ban was overturned in court
Bookmakers are looking to cash in on an American betting bonanza after a 26-year ban was overturned in court.
More than £1.5billion was added to the value of British gambling firms yesterday after US judges lifted the sports betting restrictions.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) has outlawed betting on sport since 1992 in the US, apart from in Delaware, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon.
But the US Supreme Court yesterday struck down the law after a challenge from New Jersey – opening the floodgates for a gambling spree across America.
It is thought 32 states will offer sports betting within the next five years – presenting huge opportunities to British bookies.
Shares in Paddy Power Betfair jumped 12.2per cent, or 870p, to 7975p, while William Hill was up 10.7per cent, or 30.3p, to 313.1p, Ladbrokes and Coral owner GVC rose 7.4per cent, or 64.5p, to 940p and 888 soared 15.4per cent, or 41.6p, to 312p.
William Hill chief executive Philip Bowcock said: ‘This is a landmark moment for sports betting and for William Hill.’
Betting on college sport and professional sports such as American football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey is outlawed across most of the US under PASPA, although horse racing is exempt.
Separate laws put stringent restrictions on online gambling.
An estimated £110billion is gambled on sport illegally every year in the US, according to the American Gaming Association.
Nearly 50million Americans are said to have gambled on the Super Bowl at some point – with 97per cent of the bets made illegally.
New Jersey has fought for years to legalise gambling on sports at casinos and racetracks in the state, arguing that Congress exceeded its authority when it passed the 1992 act.
It is thought 32 states will offer sports betting within the next five years – presenting huge opportunities to British bookies. Shares in Paddy Power Betfair jumped 12.2per cent, or 870p, to 7975p
But several major sports bodies supported the ban amid fears that gambling posed a threat to the integrity of their sports. Overturning the ban yesterday, Justice Samuel Alito said the legalisation of sports gambling was ‘a controversial subject’, adding: ‘Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not.’
William Hill is already a market leader in the US through its sports betting operations in Las Vegas, Nevada, the home of gambling in America.
The company operates in 108 of Nevada’s 190 casinos and takes around a third of the £3.5billion wagered on sport every year in the state.
And it has a betting operation ready to launch in New Jersey after striking a deal with Monmouth Park racecourse in the hope of a favourable ruling by the Supreme Court.
A Paddy Power spokesman said: ‘We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision, which sets out a path towards an exciting regulated sports betting market in the US.’
He added the firm ‘is well-placed to take advantage of this opportunity through our existing US operations’.