Published: Wed, December 06, 2017
Sports | By Ivan Ross

Supreme Court may back New Jersey in sports betting case

Supreme Court may back New Jersey in sports betting case

Justice Anthony Kennedy, often the court's swing vote, said the federal law "leaves in place a state law that the state does not want".

The American Gaming Association, which represents casinos, has long argued that the ban on sports wagering in states has created a $150 billion illegal market. In the meantime, New Jersey residents and visitors are welcome to try virtual sports betting at SugarHouse.

After arguments, Gov. Chris Christie (R-New Jersey) said, "I believe here, that it's very clear, the federal government overstepped its bounds".

The National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislators have filed briefs supporting New Jersey. The state was arguing that the law, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), was unconstitutional. The state said the law violates the court's interpretation of the 10th Amendment as barring Congress from controlling how states regulate private parties. "It says, 'You can't regulate'".

Wall said that neither Congress nor the lower courts expected New Jersey to engage in "gamesmanship" with its self-styled "partial repeal" that brought the case to this point. Federal courts sided with the NCAA and the leagues, rejecting the state's argument that PASPA violates the 10th Amendment on the ground that the law does not require the states to do anything.

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"I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will decide in New Jersey's favor, and the GAME Act provides the necessary legal framework for states to move forward", Pallone said in a statement.

That said, National Basketball Association commissioner Adam Silver has softened the stated stance of his league in recent years, and advocated for the regulation of sports betting.

The high court heard arguments Monday over New Jersey's challenge to a 1992 federal law that has banned sports betting in most states.

The 1992 federal law included an exception for Nevada which allowed it to continue licensing betting on sports.

Legalized sports betting would be "the lifeblood of Atlantic City and our racetracks", said state Sen. Christie's term ends Jan.16, so when the Court comes down with its decision, it will be announced as Murphy v. NCAA.

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The case has been a highly-anticipated one, since a ban lifting could bring bookmaking of professional sports not only in the state of New Jersey, but also in many other USA states over the next half a decade. A favorable ruling for the states would mean Texas could enact legislation legalizing sports wagering, which if it were to happen, would be a fascinating (and gigantic) step toward more mainstream acceptance of gaming in our state, as right now, Houstonians have to drive over two hours to play a legal game of blackjack or roulette, let alone place a wager on the Texans or Rockets.

A few minutes later, in response to a hypothetical question from Chief Justice John Roberts about whether the federal government could order the states to reduce their expenditures on state pension benefits, Kennedy complained that such a scenario "blurs political accountability" because citizens don't know whether the policy is coming from the federal or state government. Other than Breyer, the court's liberal-leaning justices indicated support for the existing law.

"Well, but when you put the state in a position that that's the only thing they can do, that's not a real choice", Roberts said. "Can they do that?"

Alito struck to the heart of that matter during Clement's time, stating that Congress, if it had wanted to, could have prohibited sports wagering enterprises (or sportsbooks, or operations) as a whole. "What policy does this statute serve that that would not?" he asked Clement.

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which is now the existing law, was backed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). "This is the fear of every governor, that we'll be at the mercy of the federal government and that they'll make us pay for it".

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While legalizing sports betting nationwide has public support, U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco thinks the sports betting ban outside Nevada should continue. MS and CT have already passed legislation that would let them offer sports gambling nearly immediately.

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