Sports betting

The U.S. Supreme Court covered a spread by a 6-3 vote on Monday by striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) that banned sports betting nationwide.

The state of Missouri – especially the St. Louis region – should become the Midwest Mecca of sports gambling and nothing is stopping this from happening except antiquated notions of morality.

Tens of thousands of Missourians gamble on sporting events. I’m one. The wager might be through a bookie, a friend or on an off-shore online gambling site.

People make bets, money changes hands and the world goes about its business.

On the same afternoon that Gov. Eric Greitens walked away from a felony invasion of privacy charge, his state was gifted a way to race away from some of its financial woes.

Let’s get busy St. Louis. In coming weeks, Illinois will be going full blast into finding a way to link sports gambling with its tourist and casino industry. But we have an advantage.

Our other neighboring states of Kansas, Arkansas, Iowa, Tennessee and Oklahoma are even more conservative than the Show Me State. While those states will certainly drag their heels on establishing brick-and-mortar gambling facilities, Missouri should already be planning to build one or allow its casinos to take sports wagers.

Minority entrepreneurs should be planning today how to reap big bucks from this new-found windfall. If the first sports gambling palace is built in the city or in north St. Louis County, a lot of folks who utter the term “I’ll never go down there,” will be lined up at the door on the first week of football season.

That’s not conjecture, that’s a promise.

Monday's ruling repealed a federal law that required states to prohibit gambling. President Clinton signed this ridiculous statute, which only served to protect the state of Nevada and Las Vegas.

"Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own," Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority.

"The legalization of sports gambling requires an im­portant policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make."

Well, it is now Kansas City, St. Louis and Missouri’s choice to make. Our windows should be open for business as soon as possible. Kansas City has a NFL franchise, and you best believe people from across the Midwest will be drawn there on Sunday’s to not only take in a game, but to bet on other games throughout the country.

St. Louis can finally soothe its wounds from the Rams departure to L.A. by inviting gamblers to St. Louis to take in a weekend of NFL and college football action.

Whether the St. Louis Cardinals like it or not, the team has been a favorite of gamblers in Las Vegas for decades. Teams that win draw action. Teams that reach the postseason draw even more betters’ interest.

My guess is that the Cardinals are already eyeing a way to introduce sports book gambling on to the Ballpark Village property. If the team isn’t, it’s making an error on an easy ground ball.

Yes, I gamble. Not much and not often, but I’ll make an occasional wager. My last bet was on Michigan to cover a 5-point spread against the Cinderella darlings from Loyola-Chicago in the Final Four.

The Wolverines covered with ease and I won some dough. The state could have kept a few bucks of that wager had it been the administrator of the bet (the bookie) or through a tax on my winnings.

If the state’s casinos offer sports book gambling, the taxes that the state garners from these facilities would probably double in a few years. The tax increase would immediately spiral upward. It’s almost free money.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie put his state in a position to be the first to benefit from Monday’s ruling. His state passed legalized sports book gambling in 2012, only to have the law challenged by the NCAA. The state lost its first case and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit again ruled against the state. The Supreme Court agreed to consider the state’s constitutional challenge to PASPA. By a 6-3 vote, with the most conservative justices on the majority, the 10th Amendment was cited.

In March, ESPN’s Outside the Lines said New Jersey could be taking NFL bets when the season opens in September.

We’re behind New Jersey, but there is hope.

State Sen. Denny Hoskins and Rep. Dean Plocher filed a bill in February called the Comprehensive Missouri Sport Betting and Sports Protection Act.

The legislation would authorize sports betting in Missouri’s casinos and on the internet, “while implementing consumer protections and sports integrity requirements. This bill would mirror federal law if the existing gambling law of 1993 that currently prohibits these actions is repealed.

Plocher’s bill would call for a 12 percent tax on sports wagering revenue and grants sports leagues a “sports betting right and integrity fee of 1 percent of all sports wagers (not on revenue), which amounts to 20-25 percent of revenue. In other words, the Cardinals, Chiefs, St. Louis Blues and Kansas City’s MLS franchise would get a cut of any wager made on the respective teams.

Well, there is that special session to deal with Gov. Greitens. The sports gambling bills should be passed during the same session.

“It’s been estimated that illegal sports betting takes place to the tune of nearly $3 billion dollars a year in Missouri,” Hoskins said.

“The time has come to stop pretending a problem doesn’t exist, and bring this activity into the sunlight, create some oversight, while bringing in new revenue to the state as well as jobs and economic activity at our casinos. “

That’s the most sensible thing to come out of Jefferson City in 2018.

Missouri’s sports bills have not been passed and the legislative session ends on Friday. Of course, there is a planned special session to deal with our frisky governor. Hmmmm. Maybe some more state business could get done.

Missouri has to get its gambling act together, and quick! There is money to be made.

Two other winners

Monday’s ruling could have a major impact outside the sports and gambling worlds, according to Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog.com She wrote Monday that the PAPSA challenge was based on protection of state’s 10th Amendment rights.

“Supporters of so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ – cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials to enforce immigration laws – have cited the 10th Amendment in recent challenges to the federal government’s efforts to implement conditions on grants for state and local law enforcement.

“Challenges to the federal government’s recent efforts to enforce federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized the drug for either recreational or medical use may also be based on the 10th Amendment.”

Missouri has to get its gambling act together, and quick!

Golden opportunity

I should have made a bet on Monday’s Golden State at Houston NBA West Conference Finals game.

A few weeks back, Charlie Tuna and his radio pack were discussing the playoffs with me on his KFNS show and I boldly predicted that the Warriors would play the Rockets in the West Finals.

The Rockets would have home court advantage, but I said, “Watch out for Game One. The Warriors will show the Rockets what being a champion is all about.”

That series opened up on Monday night and Golden State turned a halftime 46-46 tie into a 119-106 victory.

I’m glad I didn’t bet on Game One of the East Conference Final. I thought Cleveland would remind Boston and rookie flash Jayson Tatum who was the boss.

I got that wrong, big time. Celtics 108, Cavaliers 83.

Tatum had his streak of 20-points or more in playoff games snapped at seven – a NBA record – but it didn’t matter. Game Three was scheduled for Wednesday night and if the Celtics prevail – I’ll still favor Cleveland to win the series. Sorry Jayson. 

Alvin A. Reid was honored as the 2017 “Best Sports Columnist – Weeklies” in the Missouri Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest and is a New York Times contributor. He is a panelist on the Nine Network program, Donnybrook, a weekly contributor to “The Charlie Tuna Show” on KFNS and appears monthly on “The Dave Glover Show” on 97.1 Talk.” His Twitter handle is @aareid1.

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