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VICE News

How sports betting became legal thanks to a New Jersey horse track

Since a Supreme Court ruling in May, five states have legalized sports gambling and three more are looking into it

by Roberto Ferdman
Sep 4 2018, 7:17pm

For a generation, Nevada was the only place in the country where people could legally bet on sports. But thanks to a May Supreme Court decision, many fans won't have to travel or break the law to bet on their favorite teams this year.

Four states have joined Nevada in taking bets, and a handful of others are rushing to do the same as the race begins to convert bettors in the illegal market, which, even by conservative estimates, takes in at least $50 billion in bets every year.

To see what the fight looks like on the ground, VICE News traveled to New Jersey, where business owners and politicians have been fighting to legalize sports betting for almost a decade before the lawsuit filed by Monmouth Park, a New Jersey racetrack, made it all the way to the Supreme Court.

We also sat down with Ted Leonsis, the owner of four Washington sports teams, including the NBA's Wizards and NHL's Capitals, to see what he thinks legal sports betting will mean for the major sports leagues.

“Everything will become a competition,” Leonsis told VICE News. “It will become as mainstream and as one-touch and as baked into the way we do things as buying a book or getting a car on Uber.”

This segment originally aired August 28, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.