One firm estimates the new industry could be worth more than $6 billion, and plaintiff New Jersey may solicit bets by the end of the month — in time for the National Basketball Association Finals.
The framework for the industry will be shaped by state legislatures, all of which have been prohibited from lifting their existing bans on sports betting by a 1992 law. The Supreme Court's 6-3 majority opinion undid that law, declaring it an unconstitutional breach of state's rights.
Even while the ban was in place, Americans illegally bet $150 billion per year on sporting events, according to a court brief from the American Gaming Association.
Now, while as many as 32 states prepare to capitalize on a tax-free source of new revenue, a nation must reckon with its societal implications.
Here's a few of the key questions.
Just how soon is legal sports betting likely to become widespread?
A 2016 survey found that while more than two-thirds of Americans have no moral objection to sports betting, nearly half felt it shouldn't be legalized nationwide.
Still, many state legislatures are strapped for cash, and it may prove hard for them to resist potential revenues estimated last October at more than $6 billion by Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, a gaming research firm.
David Schwartz, director at the University of Nevada Las Vegas' Center for Gaming Research, says the market is likely smaller than that. Just over 2 percent of Nevada's total gaming profits came from sports books in 2017, Schwartz said, and he estimates that potential new revenues in U.S. states with casinos is more like $1.4 billion.
And while New Jersey and a few other states are primed to offer sports betting in the weeks and months to come, other interested states may have to wait awhile.
Mark Conrad, director of the sports business program at Fordham University, said some states have a constitutional ban on gambling that would have to be overturned by voters.
The discourse is also likely to be complicated by organizations, like religious groups, that disapprove of gambling and urged the Supreme Court to uphold the 1992 law, or Native Americans who have had a monopoly on gambling in their states since the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
Leagues like the NBA and Major League Baseball have also asked state legislatures for a cut of potential betting profits — seeking as much as 20 percent.
And even if a state passes a law, it has to create a regulatory structure. That takes time.
"We have to hold our horses before anybody thinks there's going to be a gaming parlor open tomorrow in the wake of this ruling," Conrad said. His best guess: Even if it's legal some day in more than 30 states, sports betting will only be allowed in five to 10 by the start of 2019.
What kind of limitations will there be?
The Supreme Court didn't weigh in on sports betting so much as whether the federal government can dictate what states will legislate.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote of the 1992 law, which told state legislatures not to repeal their bans, that "a more direct affront to state sovereignty is not easy to imagine."
But he noted that it would be perfectly constitutional for Congress to simply ban sports betting at a federal level.
The 1992 law passed the Senate 88 to 5, indicating a consensus intent to disallow sports betting. So why not pass another bill that bans sports betting?
Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, said states would oppose that move because they are too "desperate" for the new revenues.
"They see this as akin to a gold mine," Whyte said.
But Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, was one of four authors of the 1992 law and announced Monday that he will introduce legislation to set some new standards, at least.
There's already one built-in federal restriction: The Interstate Wire Act of 1961 and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 prevent people from placing bets across state borders. So, a Californian can't place a bet in New Jersey without physically being in New Jersey.
But Whyte would like to see states demand that bookmakers and sports leagues direct some of their profits toward preventing the harms associated with gambling addiction. The council said in a statement that 5 million U.S. adults have gambling problems, that the hidden costs of current gambling activity total $6.5 billion.
"Right now," Whyte said, "we're not seeing any signs or messaging that that's going to be the case."
Will Americans be inundated with ads about sports betting?
Alito noted Monday's ruling likely means states can freely advertise their sports betting operations.
Whyte predicts that even in betting-averse states like Utah (ranked by ESPN as 51st in order of states that would allow sports betting soon), residents will soon be exposed to more commercials and advertisements.
"That can have an impact on people who are vulnerable," he said, noting that if they turn to offshore betting shops to place their bets, then Utah would be in a worst-of-both-worlds situation where it sees a flood of potentially harmful messaging without the influx of new revenues to cope with the social impact.
Elsewhere in the world, it's common for TV viewers and attendees at sporting events to be bombarded by updates from bookies, and one day soon, U.S. franchises might invite their fans to download apps that allow them to bet throughout the games.
A study of Australian children ages 8 to 16 found that nearly three-quarters viewed wagering as "a normal part of sport" and were acutely aware of betting ads.
Jeffrey Deverensky, a psychiatry professor at McGill University in Montreal and director of the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-risk Behaviors, said Monday that among adults, 18- to 25-year-olds have the highest prevalence of problem gambling, and may be susceptible to targeted advertising.
"Will a sports celebrity be able to advertise gambling?" he asked. "We don't know yet."
Les Bernal, from the nonprofit Stop Predatory Gambling, said one in five advertisements in the United Kingdom relates to sports betting, and teams sew patches into their uniforms bearing bookmakers' brands.
"It's just amazing to me how huge it is," said Bernal.
He added that sports betting may soon extend to eSports, or video games, that are particularly popular among youths.
"That's an incredibly predatory, exploitative business."
Deverensky said he hopes betting shops — particularly those operating online — will counteract potential harm by showing gamblers how their habits compare to their peer group, and informing them when their activity might be problematic.
Will an increase in sports betting lead to an increase in fixing?
It was among Congress' chief concerns in 1992 that players would sabotage an event to make money for bettors, and it's what compelled the National Collegiate Athletic Association and professional sports leagues to challenge New Jersey's attempts to allow sports betting.
Only very recently, as league commissioners have called for a cut of the potential profits, have America's sports powers backed off a bit.
Fixing has a long history in American sports, and leagues have long tried to distance themselves from any implication.
Alito's opinion cited the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, in which the Chicago White Sox fixed the World Series. More recent high-profile allegations include a 2007 admission from NBA referee Tim Donaghy that he purposely affected the point spread in games he officiated, and rampant allegations of match fixing in international soccer.
Maki Haberfeld, who is chairwoman of the department of law, police science and criminal justice administration at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, has studied corruption in sports for more than six years, and said fixing is "everywhere."
"Legalizing sports betting — it's yet another opportunity for individuals to engage in various corrupted practices," she said.
"I think that before we legalize more betting establishments, we really need to have a good understanding of how these things are breached and corrupted, and I don't think we have any clue what's been done," she said.
The popular counter argument is that legal betting outlets, unlike illegal bookies, have to keep a record of their bets. Unusual activity is reported, and if it looks like a fix, that deters would-be bettors (who prefer to believe that the game they're betting on hasn't been prearranged) and reduces profits.
Stefan Szymanski, a professor of sports management and economics at the University of Michigan, said if sports betting is made legal, "bookmakers will work very hard to spot weird patterns in the betting."8 comments on this story
"With legal betting," he said, "there's a kind of automatic enforcement mechanism. They want a clean competition."
Big-name athletes who can influence a big-ticket event are also unlikely to be persuaded unless they're paid an extremely large sum of money, Szymanski said. That means fixes are most likely to occur at the college level, where athletes aren't paid.
And from an economist's point of view, he added, the problem there isn't gambling. It's that the athletes aren't being paid what they're worth.