High Court to Weigh New Jersey's Sports-Gambling Law


The US Supreme Court said Tuesday that it will hear a challenge to federal law that bans most states from legal sports betting during its next term.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and other major US sports leagues are fighting a 2014 state law that partially repeals prohibitions against sports wagering at New Jersey racetracks and casinos.

At issue is a 1992 law that banned sports betting in all but four states, Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon.

CT legislators now seem prescient: Three weeks ago, they passed a bill directing the Department of Consumer Protection to prepare for the possibility of sports betting by adopting regulations "to regulate wagering on sporting events to the extent permitted by state and federal law".

While the leagues have banded together to stop NJ sports betting, they have varying stances on the future of sports betting in the US.

If New Jersey prevails, "it could and will open up the floodgates nationally for sports betting", said Daniel Wallach, a lawyer with the firm Becker and Poliakoff who specializes in sports and gaming law and is not involved in the case.

"We are pleased the Supreme Court appears to have responded favorably to our arguments as to why they should hear this important case", CEO of the American Gaming Association Geoff Freeman said.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has twice signed sports betting bills into law, in 2012 and 2014. That's in addition to the court's previous announcement that it would hear a potentially landmark case on partisan gerrymandering.

New Jersey voters amended the state constitution in 2011 to permit sports betting at casinos and racetracks while barring wagers on any collegiate events in the state. The NCAA, NBA, NHL, MLB and National Football League sued to stop New Jersey's plan.

Sports betting is increasingly getting the attention of state lawmakers.

The court made a decision to take up the case even though the Trump administration urged the justices not to hear Christie's appeal.

New Jersey appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, saying Congress had overreached by usurping an authority that belonged to the states. The state tried again with a law in 2014, and the leagues sued again. But they are likely nervous that they have a real chance of losing in the Supreme Court.

Christie of course wants sports gambling to boost his state's lagging economy, specifically the casino industry. "Never before has congressional power been construed to allow the federal government to dictate whether or to what extent a State may repeal, lift, or otherwise modulate its own state-law prohibitions on private conduct". We're not declaring victory, but at least we're in the game.