Legalized sports betting: Will it harm Las Vegas’ casino industry?

  • Court ruling could eventually result in states legalizing sports betting
  • President of American Gaming Association thinks it won’t harm Vegas

Las Vegas’ $4.5 billion dollar legal sports betting industry has been able to thrive because Nevada is one of only four US states that has legalized the activity.

Could a legalization of sports betting in the US generally harm Nevada and Las Vegas, which is the only state in which it is allowed?
Could a legalization of sports betting in the US generally harm Nevada and Las Vegas, which is the only state in which it is allowed?

However, a court ruling could pave the way for other states to determine whether to legalize sports betting. If sports betting is legalized across the country, could this potentially harm Vegas’ gambling revenue? Geoff Freeman, President and CEO of the casino lobby group the American Gaming Association thinks that whatever happens, Vegas has nothing to worry about.

The court ruling

The Supreme Court of the United States announced in June that it will listen to the state of New Jersey’s appeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). This act bans all forms of sports betting outside of Nevada.

But the USA has an illegal gambling market estimated to be worth well over $150 billion a year.

If PASPA is successfully appealed, states could then be free to determine whether to legalize sports betting or not.

Potential effects on Vegas

If the court decides to take New Jersey’s side and repeal the act, legalized sports betting could become available to many millions of people all across the country. Figures released by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority show that upwards of 43 million people visited the city last year – if sports betting were to become more readily available, some people would have less of a need to travel to Vegas and the city’s tourism industry could suffer as a result.

Geoff Freeman’s thoughts

According to Geoff Freeman, if states were to legalize sports betting, Las Vegas won’t suffer. This is because Vegas is so much more than somewhere to gamble; it’s a veritable tourist magnet with world-class entertainment, shopping experiences and fine dining, not to mention some of the most luxurious and uniquely themed resort hotels in the world.

Even if people across the US are one day able to legally wager on sports where they live, many of them will still want to experience the glitz and glamour of Vegas for themselves.

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