Lawmakers discuss odds of new sports betting law in Indiana after Supreme Court ruling

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A major decision in Washington will have a big impact on sports fans in Indiana.

Monday, the United States Supreme Court struck down a federal law that banned states from legalizing sports gambling.

Even with the Supreme Court giving states the option of having legal sports betting, gamblers in Indiana will have to hold off placing their best, because changing the law won’t happen overnight.

“The Supreme Court today didn’t say that we have a constitutional right to gamble on sports or anything. It’s just that they’re saying the federal government can’t restrict states from doing what they want,” said Nathaniel Grow, associate professor of business law and ethics at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business.

Grow says much like the lottery, legalized sports betting could have a huge tax benefit for the state.

“If Indiana passed a law and decides to tax legalized gambling, that could generate millions maybe even tens of millions in revenue per year,” said Grow.

“Whenever we’re talking about gaming there’s always going to be opposition and people that support it. I think one of the biggest things we need to do is education moving forward,” said Rep. Alan Morrison, (R) Terre Haute.

State representative Morrison introduced a bill at the statehouse last session to legalize sports gambling. While that bill went nowhere, he thinks Indiana will now feel pressure to change.

“If the neighboring states adopt this, it’s something we’ll have to do to keep up with the Joneses so to speak,” said Morrison.

“It’s been a discussion topic, but it’s been illegal at federal level, so it’s not been discussed in detail,” said House Speaker Brian Bosma.

Both Republican and Democratic leaders at the statehouse did not say if they'd support a law legalizing sports betting, but they do hope to assign it to a summer study session.

“I don’t have position either way. I’m anxious to hear arguments pro and con. I hope it’s one issues we study. I’m going to push that it is,” said House minority leader Terry Goodwin.

As for a timeline, assuming the state legislature wants to pass a sports betting law, that wouldn’t happen until next year at the earliest. Then it would need additional time to actually go into effect.

Attorney General Curtis Hill also put out a statement applauding the court’s decision:

Attorney General Curtis Hill today praised the U.S. Supreme Court for its decision Monday to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which effectively prohibited most states from legalizing sports betting.

In 2011, voters in New Jersey approved a ballot measure legalizing sports betting, hoping to revive their state’s gaming industry. Citing the 1992 PASPA law, however, college and professional sports leagues sued former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie when he sought to act upon the voters’ wishes.

Last year -- once Christie et al. v. NCAA et al. made it to the U.S. Supreme Court -- Attorney General Hill joined Indiana to an amicus brief in support of New Jersey’s right to set its own policies.

“Our Founders drafted the Tenth Amendment for the purpose of limiting the involvement of the federal government in the internal affairs of the states,” Attorney General Hill said. “Even with this important protection written into the Bill of Rights, we see time and again that states must rise to defend their rightful prerogatives against the intrusive meddling of Congress. That’s what New Jersey did in this case, and we were pleased to support the cause of federalism on behalf of all states interested in preserving their liberties.”

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