MLS: Striking down sports betting law will change everything

The Supreme Court struck down a federal law that prohibits sports betting on Monday. The decision will change everything for MLS. Trust me, I’m English.

I’ll be honest, before Monday, I didn’t even realise that betting on sports illegal in the US. And that is not because I am oblivious to the sporting world in the States. Not only do I follow MLS, but I also have an avid interest in the NFL and have done for many years. I simply never knew that sports betting was illegal.

But all that changed on Monday. The Supreme court struck down a federal law that prohibits sports betting, giving the States autonomy over whether to legalise betting on sports. It is a remarkable decision.

Obviously, this is a sports-wide issue. It is not limited to MLS. In fact, it is arguably more significant for the likes of football and baseball given that soccer stems from the European game, where betting is not only commonplace but often the central issue of matches for many fans watching.

That said, this decision will still have a major impact on MLS in America. Thankfully, the MLS is supportive of the decision, at least to some extent, releasing this statement following the court order:

“Although Major League Soccer is supportive of today’s Supreme Court decision, we also believe that it is critical that state legislatures and other regulatory bodies work closely with the professional sports leagues in the United States to develop a regulatory framework to protect the integrity of each of our respective sports.  We look forward to being a part of that process.”

It is a little bit of a nothing statement, in all honesty. While they express tentative support of the decision, they do add rather large and vague caveats, stating that there must be a ‘regulatory framework’ put in place that is carefully considered by all sports, whatever that actually means.

But perhaps the league does have a right to be cautious in this instance. This decision will have huge ramifications on the very fabric of the sport, from the use of advertising, that is obviously shown state-wide, meaning that it will have to comply to a wide-range of differing laws, to the use, selling, and licensing of data in the sport, and the many bets that can be placed on the results of such data.

I am English and have therefore grown up with sports betting. It is absolutely normal, in this country, to bet on how many corners a team will have in any given match. But I understand that that may seem like an alien occurrence to an American audience. This is the detail that the markets will delve into.

It will change the very fabric of how the general public watches sports, and seeing as how the general public watches sports is often what drives the revenue of sports and the revenue of sports is often what drives the governing decisions that sports make, thereby, the ruling to legalise sports betting will change the very fabric of sports of itself, if you are still with me.

I cannot understate the significance of this ruling. It may take a number of years to take full effect. But it will come. From this day forth, MLS, for better or worse, will never be the same.

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