Surpreme Court could make sports betting easier to find

Christie's gambling fight heads to the Supreme Court

Christie's gambling fight heads to the Supreme Court

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.

A New Jersey win would allow the state's racetracks and casinos to begin offering sports betting and potentially lay the groundwork for other states. New Jersey's measure, challenged by the biggest USA sports leagues, was struck down by lower courts as a violation of a federal law that prohibits sports gambling in most states. If the Supreme Court strikes down the law, giving sports betting the go-ahead, 32 states would likely offer it within five years, according to one report. The stakes are high. It is now a mostly illegal activity that, according to the American Gaming Association, "has grown to a $150 billion-a-year industry".

The case pits New Jersey and other states against all four major USA professional sports leagues and the federal government.

Courts have voided two New Jersey laws, also including one in 2012, created to raise revenue for state coffers through sports betting.

That argument didn't sit well with Chief Justice John Roberts, who said the federal government was preferring no regulation at all to state regulation. "This is the fear of every governor that we'll be at the mercy of the federal government and they'll make us pay for it", said Christie.

"Sports betting in the U.S.is on the forefront of the discussion not only in the gaming industry but among the general public", said Steve Gallaway, GMA's Managing Partner.

Again, the courts ruled against the state, prompting Christie to take the case to the Supreme Court.

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More than a dozen states are supporting New Jersey, which is arguing that Congress exceeded its authority when it passed a 1992 law that keeps states from authorizing sports betting. The legislation would allow states to legalize sports betting within their borders, among other provisions.

The case the justices are hearing Monday is a result of New Jersey's yearslong effort to bring betting on sports to its casinos and racetracks.

Since the initial suit, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has come out in support of regulating sports betting, and the NFL and NHL have approved the relocation of franchises to Las Vegas, where sports betting is legal. Justice Elena Kagan said Congress merely was preempting state law when it passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, something it does regularly. Nevada was exempted from the law and three other states - Montana, Delaware, and OR - had already enacted sports lotteries and were allowed to continue to do so. Nevada is the only state where a person can wager on the results of a single game, though the law doesn't cover wagering between friends.

"New Jersey's real complaint is that Congress has forbidden it from enacting the specific policy it prefers-namely, state sports gambling at its state-licensed casinos and race tracks", wrote Paul D. Clement, a lawyer representing the NCAA, the National Basketball Association, the NFL and others. The Democratic lawmaker sponsored the bill that legalized sports betting in the state, prompting a lawsuit from the four major US sports leagues and the NCAA that ultimately made its way to the Supreme Court.

But the sports leagues say to comply with PASPA, New Jersey and other states don't have to take any action.

Not a word was spoken-or a question asked-during the arguments about the potential consequences of striking down the law, namely the expansion of sports gambling across the nation. At the time, New Jersey could have allowed sports wagering if it had acted within a year of the law's effective date, but New Jersey chose not to.

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