October 22, 2018

Court to hear New Jersey argument on legalizing sports gambling

06 December 2017, 01:25 | Pamela Mathis

Ethan Miller Getty Images

Chris Christie goes to the Supreme Court on sports betting

The state of New Jersey has already tried to annul its own ban imposed on sports betting operations, but its attempts have been repeatedly turned down by courts which cited the federal law, saying that New Jersey's citizens need to obey the law. He mentioned political accountability which came up in the briefs, but there was very little discussion at all about "Equal Sovereignty", or the doctrine that all states should be on equal footing (as in, why can Nevada have sports wagering but not New Jersey?).

In a statement released after the first day American Gaming Association President Geoff Freeman added: "Today is a positive day for the millions of Americans seeking to legally wager on sporting events".

The key word, of course, is "legal" because the underground sports books have existed since before the industrial revolution, and the internet has made illegal sports wagering far more prevalent, far more readily available, and some would argue far more acceptable and mainstream in 2017.

The hope for those who want to legalize sports gambling is to crack down on illegal and unregulated online gaming and replace it with a safe option which includes protection against money laundering and fraud.

The sports leagues originally sued the state of New Jersey in 2012, with the case finally reaching the Supreme Court this year.

New Jersey has been trying to get the law repealed and open up sports betting at casinos and racetracks across the state since 2011.

Deputy Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, who argued on behalf of the Department of Justice in support of the sports leagues, said New Jersey would have been in compliance with PASPA if it had completely repealed its prohibition on sports betting.

"If New Jersey wins in this case, it is a sign of the Supreme Court's willingness to take a relatively serious line on commandeering generally", Somin said. To paraphrase: How can it be that states don't want a particular state law and Congress tells them they can't repeal it?

Perhaps the biggest tell regarding this case's outcome was provided by Justice Stephen Breyer, who tends to wear his cards on his (robe's) sleeve.

Alabama is not among those joining in the New Jersey case, though surrounding states Florida, Mississippi and Tennessee are.

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Stohr said the justices could rule narrowly and allow betting to go forward in New Jersey or they could strike down the federal law entirely.

The law bars state-authorized sports gambling with exceptions for Nevada, Montana, Oregon and DE, states that had approved some form of sports wagering before the law took effect.

So, the highest federal court of the U.S. is now considering whether the sports wagering ban in 46 of the USA states is actually constitutional. Gorsuch asked rhetorically, referring to how the burden might be on the states to handle enforcement, not the federal government.

It presents the justices with a rare opportunity to define the limits of federalism and the meaning of the 10th Amendment, which says: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people". "While we can't predict the intentions of Supreme Court Justices, we can accurately predict the demise of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection of 1992".

"Congress could have prohibited sports gambling itself", Justice Samuel Alito suggested to Paul Clement, another former USA solicitor general who is representing the NCAA and major sports leagues. A decision in the case is expected by summer.

Paul Clement, representing the sports leagues, said the law was clear.

"The problem that Congress was confronting was state-sponsored and sanctioned sports gambling schemes", he said.

"This area has been talking about it for years, so there is going to be no debate if we should have it", said Freeman, "The casinos are already scouting out where the sports books will be located". Not only are they prepared for the possibility, but gambling experts talking to ESPN say they're more prepared than anybody to cash in on a favorable ruling.

Titus said 13 states have passed laws on gaming in anticipation of a Supreme Court ruling that would make sports wagering legal.

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