- The Washington Times - Monday, May 14, 2018

Ted Leonsis, owner and CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which operates the Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals and Washington Mystics, released a lengthy statement in support of the Supreme Court’s decision to repeal a federal ban on sports betting.

The decision “brings a multibillion-dollar industry out of the shadows and into the sunlight, where its integrity can be guaranteed and consumers can be better protected,” Leonsis wrote. “I believe today’s decision will change the face of sports fandom for the better.”

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court repealed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which outlawed gambling on sports across the U.S. except for a select few states (like Nevada) and a few sports (like horse racing).

New Jersey challenged the law’s constitutionality on the grounds that it limited states’ rights.

Leonsis’s statement discussed at length the proliferation of statistics and advanced metrics in sports in the past 10 years. He compared betting on sports to betting on stocks.

“Think about it this way: Wall Street is another industry that’s all about data,” Leonsis wrote. “It’s about making informed decisions about what the market will do based on the data you have available to you. And there are tremendous safeguards in place to protect consumers – the SEC, for example – to ensure that trading happens on a level playing field. Sports betting is no different.”

Leonsis cited a study that found overseas bookmakers made $2.5 to $3 billion from 12 to 15 “illegal” American bettors in 2017.

“Legalized sports betting will only bring fans closer to the game, ramping up the action in each minute and creating more intensity. It will bring new revenue into the economy, creating jobs and growing our tax base. Today’s decision is a great one for sports fans and I am eager to embrace it,” he wrote.

Leonsis has long been a proponent of sports betting, his frankness on the topic making him an outlier among other owners and commissioners among the country’s four major sports leagues. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has also been candid about his support for nationwide legalization.

After the Arena Football League and its players’ union came to a new collective bargaining agreement this spring, Leonsis, who owns half the teams in the AFL, wrote on his official blog that he believed “real-time wagering” was part of “the future of football.”

And new AFL commissioner Randall Boe, a longtime Monumental partner of Leonsis, told The Washington Times in April that “everyone is looking around the corner at the advent of legalized sports betting on a much wider basis in this country.”

Leonsis has owned the NHL’s Capitals since 1999 and the NBA’s Wizards since 2010. He bought both franchises from the Pollin family.

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