Sports betting legalization: How we got here

Legalization of sports gambling leads to more questions (3:18)

Scott Van Pelt calls the Supreme Court ruling on sports betting an "on-ramp" for those who have already been illegally gambling. (3:18)

The prohibition of alcohol began January 17, 1920, when the 18th Amendment took effect, making the business of booze illegal.

Drinking initially declined, but was of course not eliminated. Those who indulged simply participated in the thriving, unregulated black market that was run by organized crime and bootleggers. Consumer protections were lacking. Industrial-strength alcohol, including the kind designed for fuel, was stirred into some batches of bathtub gin, causing people to go blind and killing many others.

The Prohibition Era lasted 13 years, before the 21st Amendment nullified the 18th Amendment on Dec. 5, 1933, repealing the ban on alcohol.

Another prohibition of an American pastime was put in place in 1992 and lasted twice as long as the alcohol ban.

For 26 years, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 made the business of bookmaking illegal in all but a handful of states, most notably Nevada. Much like with alcohol during the Prohibition Era, those interested in betting on sports outside of Nevada simply participated in a thriving black market that's believed to handle an estimated $150 billion in bets annually.

On May 14, 2018, the sports betting prohibition era ended, with a resounding Supreme Court decision that struck down PASPA and set the country on a path to widespread legal sports betting.

Here is a look back at some memorable moments from the past three decades in American sports betting.

Aug. 24, 1989

Major League Baseball commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti releases a 225-page report detailing Pete Rose's gambling and bans the game's all-time hits leader from baseball.

"The banishment for life of Pete Rose from baseball is the sad end of a sorry episode," Giamatti says in the statement. "One of the game's greatest players has engaged in a variety of acts which have stained the game, and he must now live with the consequences of those acts. By choosing not to come to a hearing before me, and by choosing not to proffer any testimony of evidence contrary to the evidence and information contained in the report of the Special Counsel to the Commissioner, Mr. Rose has accepted baseball's ultimate sanction, lifetime ineligibility."

Jan. 3, 1991

House Bill 74, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), is introduced in the House of Representatives. The companion bill, Senate Bill 474, is released the following February and is backed by prominent U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley, a former NBA player, as well as the NCAA and major professional sports leagues.

"Athletes are not roulette chips, but sports gambling treats them as such," Bradley writes in an academic paper. "If the dangers of state sponsored sports betting are not confronted, the character of sports and youngsters' view of them could be seriously threatened."

June 2, 1992

The U.S. Senate votes 88-5 in favor of passing PASPA. The House of Representatives follows with a voice vote -- something that normally takes place after bills receive overwhelming support in the Senate -- and sends the bill to President George H.W. Bush.

"It was very non-controversial," recalled then-U.S. Rep. Tom McMillen, a former NBA player, who voted for PASPA. "It was right in the Pete Rose aftermath."

Oct. 28, 1992

President George H.W. Bush signs the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act into law.

Feb. 20, 1993

A team of researchers at the University of Illinois introduce Mosaic, which eventually becomes Netscape, the first popular internet browser available to the public. Soon after, underground bookmaking operations gravitate to the internet, leading to the rise of the offshore sports betting industry that illegally serves U.S. bettors.

Dec. 31, 1993

One year after PASPA was put in place, Nevada's regulated sports betting market takes an all-time high $2 billion in wagers for the year.

Jan. 27, 1994

Arizona State hosts Oregon State in a Pac-10 college basketball game. It is the first of four games later found to be fixed for gambling purposes by Sun Devils' star guard Stevin "Hedake" Smith.

Aug. 3, 1996

President Bill Clinton establishes a commission to study the social and economic impacts of gaming in the United States.

"The Commission will help draw attention to the growth of the gambling industry and its consequences," Clinton wrote in a statement announcing the commission. "Too often, public officials view gambling as a quick and easy way to raise revenues, without focusing on gambling's hidden social, economic, and political costs. The Commission will report on all of the effects of gambling to the President and the Congress."

The commission then issues the National Gambling Impact Study in 1999, noting that estimates of the scope of the illegal sports betting market in the U.S. ranged between $80 billion and $380 billion.

"Even when Americans understand the illegality of sports wagering, it is easy to participate in, widely accepted, very popular and, at present, not likely to be prosecuted," the report states.

Earlier that year, the first online sportsbook to take bets from U.S. customers, Intertops, opened for business.

Oct. 26, 1996

Boston College, a 13.5-point underdog, loses to Syracuse 45-13. Two weeks later, Boston College suspends 13 players for placing bets on college and professional sports. Investigators allege that two of the players -- reserves who didn't play significant minutes -- bet against the Eagles in the Syracuse game.

''We have found absolutely no evidence, no indication of any game, the outcome of any game, the score of any game ... was influenced or compromised in any way by players for Boston College," a local district attorney says at a news conference announcing the investigation.

March 27, 1998

Two former Northwestern basketball players, Kenneth Dion Lee and Dewey Williams, are indicted on charges that they took bribes to fix Big Ten games during the 1994-95 season. Prosecutors alleged that Lee and Williams were paid $4,000 to influence home games against Wisconsin and Penn State in an effort to make Northwestern lose by more than the point spread.

"Illegal sports wagering continues to grow and is believed to exist in one form or another on virtually every college campus in America," National Collegiate Athletic Association's anti-gambling representative Bill Saum told The New York Times regarding the scandal at Northwestern.

Feb. 10, 2001

UNLV hosts BYU in college basketball. It's the first UNLV game that Nevada sportsbooks are allowed to accept bets on, ending a 40-plus-year ban on wagering on the state schools.

April 4, 2001

U.S. Senator John McCain introduces the Amateur Sports Integrity Act, a bill aimed at banning betting on college sports, including in Nevada. Facing stiff lobbying opposition from the gaming industry, the bill doesn't make it out of committee and is defeated.

Dec. 21, 2005

Toledo running back Quinton Broussard fumbles late in the first half of the GMAC Bowl against UTEP. Years later, Broussard admitted in court that, in exchange for $500, he fumbled on purpose in attempt to manipulate the bowl game's outcome. Six Toledo student-athletes, including three basketball players and three football players, were ultimately indicted on conspiracy to commit sports bribery charges.

Oct. 13, 2006

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) is put in place, targeting online gambling operations. With support from all the sports leagues, including the NCAA, UIGEA includes an exemption for fantasy sports.

March 30, 2007

Former New Jersey assemblyman and mayor of Union City Raul "Rudy" Garcia surrenders to authorities after a warrant for his arrest is issued in connection with a sports betting operation.

"Rudy, a friend and former colleague, was merely placing a bet for himself and a few friends," retired New Jersey Sen. Raymond Lesniak said. "Charges were ultimately dropped, but it started my challenge to overturn the federal ban on sports betting."

July 24, 2007

NBA commissioner David Stern holds a press conference regarding gambling allegations against referee Tim Donaghy. Weeks later, Donaghy pleads guilty to two felony counts, admitting that he passed information to professional gamblers and bet on games, including some of which he officiated.

"I feel betrayed by what happened on behalf of the sport regardless of how protective I've been," Stern said. "This is not something that is anything other than an act of betrayal of what we know in sports as a sacred trust."

March 23, 2009

Lobbying group Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA), along with Sen. Lesniak and three New Jersey horsemen associations, file suit against the then-U.S. attorney general Eric Holder and U.S. attorney for the district of New Jersey Ralph J. Marra. The suit was ultimately dismissed due to lack of standing.

May 6, 2009

Six Toledo student-athletes are indicted on conspiracy to commit sports bribery.

"Today's charges shine a light into the dark corner of illegal sports bookmaking and reveals the unfortunate consequences that the influence of money from betting can have on the integrity of both athletes and athletic contests," U.S. Attorney Terrence Berg said in a statement announcing the indictment.

May 15, 2009

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signs legislation legalizing betting on college and professional sports.

Two months later, the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and the NCAA sue Markell and eventually prevail in federal appeals court.

In the early stages of the initiative, NFL attorneys argued that Delaware's sports betting efforts violated the state's constitution because sports betting was a skill-based activity.

"Sports betting combines both skill and chance, but the element of chance, though perhaps significant, is not 'dominant,'" NFL lawyers wrote in a 2003 memo. "Typical sports bettors gather and analyze information, sometimes in significant quantities, about the nuances of the sports on which the bet."

Delaware proceeded to offer parlay betting on the NFL through the state lottery.

July 2, 2009

Daily fantasy operator FanDuel offers its first online money contest.

April 11, 2011

University of San Diego guard Brandon Johnson, the program's all-time leading scorer, is arrested by the FBI and ultimately pleads guilty to conspiracy to commit sports bribery related to a handful of games during the 2009-10 season.

May 23, 2011

On a day known as "Blue Monday" in the gambling world, 10 online gambling domains, including multiple offshore sportbooks, are seized by the U.S. Department of Justice. Several of the sportsbooks simply changed the extension on their URL, moving, for example, from .com to .eu, and continued operating. However, one book -- BetED.com -- was forced to shut down, leaving players without their funds. The bust occurred after the Department of Justice indicted top executives from the major online poker sites serving the United States: PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker.

Nov. 9, 2011

New Jersey voters overwhelmingly support a referendum to legalize sports betting.

Jan. 17, 2012

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signs legislation which would legalize sports betting at the state's racetracks and casinos.

Aug. 7, 2012

The NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball sue New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie over his legislation that would legalize sports betting at the state's casinos and racetracks.

Oct, 25, 2012

Twenty-five people, including a Las Vegas sportsbook executive, are indicted in connection with an illegal sports betting ring. Owners of Curaco-based offshore sportsbook Pinnaclesports.com were named in the indictment. "The ramifications of this are huge," an industry source told ESPN. "The guys involved had to be handling millions of dollars a week."

Dec. 31, 2012

The Nevada sports betting market eclipses the $3 billion mark in handle in a year for the first time.

March 20, 2013

The Department of Justice indicts operators of offshore sportsbook Legendz Sports.

June 3, 2013

Auburn point guard Varez Ward is arrested on allegations he attempted to fix a 2012 game between the Tigers and Arkansas. Ward was accepted into a pre-trial diversion program and avoided conviction.

June 23, 2014

The Supreme Court declines to hear New Jersey's first appeal in its sports betting effort.

Oct. 17, 2014

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signs new legislation, attempting again to legalize sports betting at the state's casinos and racetracks.

Oct. 20, 2014

The NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB again sue Christie, setting off another two-year legal battle.

Nov. 13, 2014

First-year NBA commissioner Adam Silver writes an op-ed in The New York Times, calling on Congress to create a federal framework that would allow states to legalize and regulate sports betting. The NBA's shift in position with sports betting coincides with the league's investment in daily fantasy sports operator FanDuel.

Jan. 8, 2014

Three UTEP basketball players are kicked off the team after having been found to have bet on sports.

Feb. 5, 2015

New MLB commissioner Rob Manfred tells ESPN's Outside the Lines that the legalization of sports betting needs "fresh consideration."

"Gambling in terms of our society has changed its presence on legalization," Manfred said, "and I think it's important for there to be a conversation between me and the owners about what our institutional position will be."

Weeks later, Manfred appears at the MIT Sloan Conference and says that he agrees with Adam Silver on the issue.

Nov. 11, 2015

The board of directors for the American Gaming Association votes to pursue a repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. Five months later, the AGA, which represents the casino industry, creates a task force dedicated to sports betting, as the gaming industry unites behind the movement.

June 22, 2016

The NHL awards an expansion franchise to Las Vegas. The Vegas Golden Knights become the first major professional sports franchise to be located in Las Vegas.

March 27, 2017

NFL owners vote 31-1 in favor of allowing the Oakland Raiders to relocate to Las Vegas.

June 27, 2017

The Supreme Court decides to hear New Jersey's second attempt to legalize sports betting.

Dec. 4, 2017

The Supreme Court hears opinions on New Jersey's sports betting case.

May 14, 2018

The Supreme Court strikes down PASPA, the federal ban on sports betting.

"Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own," the court writes in its opinion. "Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not."