Grandfather is probably not a word you would think of when talking about the Supreme Court or sports betting, but in the history of gambling in the USA, the word grandfather has had huge effects that can be counted in the tens of billions of dollars. In legal terms, grandfather is a term used mainly to express the exception from a law by organizations that were doing something before it became illegal. In many cases, a new law will allow people to continue doing what they were doing, but will not allow new people to do it. It was the exemption for sports betting that many believe allowed Las Vegas to thrive while Atlantic City died. Because Las Vegas had sports betting before it was made illegal, they were allowed to continue offering it, while states like New Jersey were forbidden from starting up sports betting.
The law created a near monopoly for Las Vegas.
It is that monopoly that is at the heart of this years case to be heard by the Supreme Court where New Jersey has finally found enough support to force the Supreme Court to hear the case. But other states are watching carefully. New Jersey has passed legislation that allows sport betting, but of course the federal ban prevents casinos from actually allowing it. Many outsiders and legal expert believe that the Supreme Court could correct a perceived error, but still not do it correctly. The reason California and a few other states have quickly passed laws that allow sports betting is simply as a precaution against being locked out of another grandfather clause. There is a chance that the Supreme Court could rule that sports betting is allowed, but only in states that have already, at the time of the decision, passed state laws allowing sports betting. So by passing this law, California could end up grandfathered into a decision even if they currently do not want to allow sports betting.
If you think this seems like nonsense or unfair, New Jersey has been fighting for almost 30 years because of exactly the same thing. New Jersey was not able to pass a law in the early 1990s, and so for 30 years have been unable, despite wide support, to provide sports gambling. It is also important for California. Many people do not realize how big the economy of California is. In terms of GDP, if California was its´own country, it would be around the 10th biggest economy in the world.