WASHINGTON DC: America’s huge illegal sports betting industry could be opened up to legitimate operators following a Supreme Court decision to strike down a 1992 federal law.

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) outlawed sports betting nationwide – a few states remained exempt – effectively creating an illegal market the American Gaming Association has estimated is worth $150bn.

But the Supreme Court yesterday upheld the legality of a 2014 state law permitting sports betting at New Jersey casinos and horse racetracks, Reuters reported.

Individual states will now be able to decide if residents will be allowed to bet on sports – and several have already legislated in expectation of such a ruling.

Sports leagues will also look to grab a slice of the action: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently argued that “legalized sports betting creates an opportunity to be compensated directly by selling our video and data” and could lead to an increase in fan engagement.

But just how the sector develops will depend on how these factors play out and federal intervention may be required, according to sports and gambling law attorney Daniel Wallach.

“At some point, if the legislation starts to diverge from state to state and, more importantly, the leagues don’t get what they want at the state level, I think you will see Congress jump into the fray and pass some kind of legislation to create more uniformity across the country,” he told USA TODAY.

Meanwhile, overseas operators are laying plans. UK bookmaker William Hill, already present in Nevada, has a betting operation ready to go in New Jersey in partnership with Monmouth Park racecourse and is talking to potential partners in several other states.

Dublin-based Paddy Power Betfair, which has 300 US staff and owns the TVG television network showing live horse racing, could follow a similar path.

“We’ve been operating in New Jersey through our casino business, so we’re a known entity there,” CEO Kip Levin, told the Guardian. “To operate sports betting would be an extension of that. We’d then have to figure out the tech strategy, which we’re already spending time on.

“The big unknown is how quickly the market will expand as it opens up state-to-state,” he added. “Our intention is we’d be ready from a tech standpoint by the fall.”

Sourced from Reuters, USA Today, Strategy + Business, Guardian; additional content by WARC staff