Just when they thought they were out, UK bookies are back in. The US markets are one step closer to opening up…

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Foooooget about FOBT, shares in the leading UK sports betting firms rose sharply following the news that the US Supreme Court has lifted the ban on sports betting in the majority of states.

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act has been in force since 1992 but the Supreme Court has deemed it to be unconstitutional. They ruled by 6 votes to 3 in favour of New Jersey in a case brought against the National Collegiate Athletic Association and major professional sports leagues.

Bookmakers believe this to be a landmark decision, opening up a potential market of an estimated $150 billion. That figure was put forward by The American Gaming Association as the sum invested illegally on sports each year. Stock market prices for the leading sports betting companies rose by between 7 and 15%. Many firms had anticipated the move and established a presence in the United States.

Paddy Power Betfair close in on FanDuel acquisition

Paddy Power and Betfair merged in 2016 with Betfair continuing to operate their online betting exchange. The combined company already owns TVG, an American horse racing channel and online betting network. The company acquired mobile-led business DRAFT a year ago for $19million with a subsequent performance related payment of $29million.

Paddy Power Betfair has confirmed that it is now in talks with fantasy sports website FanDuel. They believe that FanDuel would make the ideal partner to develop the Group’s US business. Players can select fantasy sports teams and pit their wits against other punters for cash prizes. FanDuel has a database of around six million users.

Betting exchange firm Smarkets also welcomed the news, Chief Executive Jason Trost calling it “a huge victory for the sports betting industry and for consumers”. Smarkets became Global Betting Partner for Queens Park Rangers Football Club in 2015 and announced that they were partnering The Jockey Club in January this year.

You can compare Smarkets to other betting exchanges here.

Legal sports betting could begin in June

William Hill could be among the first to benefit via their American arm in New Jersey. William Hill has invested $1million setting up a new sports bar at Monmouth Park Racetrack with obvious potential to be developed as a sports book. The first legal sports wager could be placed as early as June.

New Jersey has already been joined by Connecticut, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Mississippi by passing laws to allow sports betting. Gambling stakeholders must now reach agreement with the leagues to pave the way for regulated sports betting.

European firms will certainly not be given free rein and will meet plenty of competition from their American rivals and elsewhere. Churchill Downs has announced that it will enter sports-betting markets in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. They are working with SBTech on developing a website and mobile app. and hope to be operational early next year. The Canadian-based Stars Group recently purchased Sky Bet in a combined $4.7billion and stock deal. Stars Group is best known for PokerStars and their acquisition of Sky Bet will inevitably see them become a major force in the sports betting market.

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