MLS chief backs wider legalisation of sports betting in US

9 November 2017

Don Garber, commissioner of North America’s Major League Soccer (MLS), has voiced his support for widespread legalisation of sports betting in the US, despite other professional sports leagues in the country lobbying against such a move.

Full sports wagering is currently only legal in Nevada, although New Jersey is in the middle of a case that could lead to other states introducing a regulated system.

New Jersey aims to overturn the federal 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which makes it unlawful for governmental entities to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, licence or authorise betting, gambling or wagering schemes based on games played by amateur or professional athletes.

The state has said it is against the U.S. Constitution for the federal government to usurp state rights and provide Nevada with the ability to offer sports betting, but deny other states the same opportunity.

American football league the NFL, basketball’s NBA, Major League Baseball and ice hockey’s NHL are all strongly opposed to New Jersey’s efforts, arguing that it would violate PASPA.

However, speaking at a recent summit, Garber said that he would not be against expanding the current market to include more states, saying betting is “part of the DNA of football”.

“Go to a game in [English Premier League club] Chelsea or in Stamford Bridge, somebody’s coming to your seat or in your box with a tout sheet, and you can place a bet,” Garber said, according to Yahoo.

“Gambling on games, betting on games, is part of the DNA of football around the world.

“I am a big proponent that it’s going to happen, we might as well be in front of it.

“I think there are great values to our tax revenues to be able to do that, I don’t think we can stop it, so maybe we’d even lead the charge.”

The US Supreme Court is due to hear New Jersey’s argument early next month.

Related article: New Jersey sports betting appeal date set