WASHINGTON, December 3, 2017 — The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments over a federal statute that makes sports betting illegal in a majority of the country. Legal experts see it as a fight over the U.S. Constitution and federalism vs. states’ rights.
The case is stemming from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who signed a law that authorized sports betting at casinos and racetracks. For 25-years federal law prohibits gambling on sports outside of Nevada and three other states.
Atlantic City Sports Betting
A victory for Christie would open the floodgates in Atlantic City and allow sports books to be open. Christie is facing off against the NCAA and pro sports leagues, which are represented by attorney Paul Clement. A victory would also free states to legalize gambling on games, matches, tests, races, championships and other events if they want or need.
Christie faces an uphill battle, New Jersey has faced off against the NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball and have not won a single case. The focus of this case is the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which is legislation that was passed by Congress in 1992 to preserve and protect the integrity of the games.
The law established before the growth of online gambling. Congress believed it could keep professional and college sports free from gambling and organized crime.
That has not happened, illegal betting is a $150 billion business, with 10% bet on the Super Bowl and ‘March Madness.’
The National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislators have filed briefs supporting New Jersey. Twenty states also offered support via a brief from 18 state attorneys general and three governors. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) is introducing legislation that will strike down the ban if the Supreme Court does not.
According to the brief filed by the NCAA, which quoted from the 1992 Senate report which considered the new state revenue stream but concluded “the risk to the reputation of one of our nation’s most popular pastimes … is not worth it.”
Sports Betting endorsed by NBA
Since that law was passed many pro teams are moving to Las Vegas, the NHL just located a team in Las Vegas, and the NFL is planning on relocating the Oakland Raiders there soon.
The federal government is hearing the most opposition from religious groups who are touting economic justice and public health. Deepak Gupta who represents the groups called sports gambling a “regressive tax on the less fortunate people in society, and it often takes advantage of addiction.”
Optimism about sports betting’s future has continued to grow since the Supreme Court sent shockwaves throughout the entire gambling industry on June 27 by agreeing to hear New Jersey’s appeal. A decision by the Supreme Court is expected to be made in March or April 2018.