Published: Tue, December 05, 2017
World | By Camille Rivera

New Jersey Has A Tangled History With This Sports Betting Law

New Jersey Has A Tangled History With This Sports Betting Law

New Jersey wants to get in on the estimated $150 billion bet illegally on sports in the U.S. each year, and on Monday the state took its case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The state has said it is against the U.S. Constitution for the federal government to usurp state rights and provide Nevada with the ability to offer sports betting, but deny other states the same opportunity.

Christie says his state's "long experience" of casino gaming shows that New Jersey can appropriately regulate sports gaming. If the Supreme Court strikes down the law, giving sports betting the go-ahead, dozens of states could quickly make sports betting legal. In 2012, with voters' support, state lawmakers authorized sports betting at the state's casinos and racetracks. "It will have ramifications far beyond the confines of sports gambling in New Jersey and it could impact a broad range of other policy domains where the states are rolling back preexisting prohibitions in the shadow of stricter federal laws". It is now a mostly illegal activity that, according to the American Gaming Association, "has grown to a $150 billion-a-year industry".

Two decades later, when New Jersey made a decision to legalize sports betting, the four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA sued, but the state lost in court.

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"PASPA is a direct command to the states without any effort to regulate sports wagering", Olson told the justices. The law has exceptions for Nevada, Montana, Oregon and DE, which had approved some form of sports wagering before the law took effect.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has fought for years to overturn the federal law, watched the argument from the front row of the Supreme Court bar section.

The leagues also say New Jersey's 2014 repeal of its sports-betting ban is a sleight of hand that effectively authorizes sports wagering without explicitly saying so.

Deputy Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, also defending the law, said that Olson's assertion that federal law can preempt state law only when the federal government promulgates a comprehensive regulatory scheme is "a made-up principle". In passing the law, Congress gave New Jersey a yearlong window to authorize sports betting at its casinos, but the state didn't act. It lost again in court. Sports leagues challenged the law citing the 1992 law, and they won in federal court.

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Christie said outside court that if the justices rule in New Jersey's favor, "we could have bets being taken in New Jersey within two weeks of a decision by the court".

"We're like boy scouts, we're prepared, we're prepared in New Jersey and we're ready to go", he added.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case by the end of June.

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