June 27th, 2017
The United States' highest judicial court, the Supreme Court, is set to consider reinstating a 2012 law in the state of New Jersey that legalises sports betting, so long as it is done at a physical casino or racetrack. According to NJ.com, New Jersey's Governor, Chris Christie, has been given the chance to plea his state's case during the Court's upcoming term which is set to kick off in October!
The US state of New Jersey has long been a big supporter of the gambling industry despite the country's propensity to try to completely eliminate access to the industry. Home to Atlantic City, formally known as one of the top destinations for casino enthusiasts around the world, New Jersey has always been at the forefront of gambling (including online gambling) in the Unites States.
The state's judicial courts even ruled the game of poker is one of skill, meaning it's not gambling and thus not illegal, a feat few other states have been able to accomplish. And thanks to the US' healthy respect for individual state rights, New Jersey can legally act outside of particular overarching federal laws if state laws permit.
This is where New Jersey Govenor, Chris Christie and his state's legal battle with the Unites States comes into play. The Garden State, as many call it, voted on a law in 2012 that legalised sports betting within the state but the 1992 federal law outlawing all wagering on sport events was said to overule the state-sanctioned law. The former U.S. Attorney of New Jersey turned Governor strongly disagreed...
Christ Christie and the people of New Jersey believe the 1992 federal law banning any and all betting on sports, the Professional and Amateur Sport Protection Act (PASPA), is unconstitutional and directly contradicts the Tenth Amendment which bars Congress from influencing how each state "regulates private parties".
Like New Jersey's ability to regulate poker as a game of skill, Christie believes his state should have the opportunity to regulate sports betting themselves without the influence of the federal government. Christie argued:
"This federal takeover of New Jersey’s legislative apparatus is dramatic, unprecedented, and in direct conflict with this court’s Tenth Amendment jurisprudence barring Congress from controlling how the states regulate private parties."
Following the federal ruling on their 2012 law, New Jersey eliminated its legal sports betting industry but not without a fight. The state continued to fight for appeals, earning others in the past similar to Christie's but none as promising as the most recent (none of the others received approval to be heard by a higher court).
Christie's appeal was finally heard and approved for the upcoming Supreme Court session, which is set top kick off in October, 2017. The news came after the Supreme Court officially announced the cases they will be reviewing next session and the NJ appeal case was included. Now Christie will get to state his case in front of the Supreme Court... but does have a chance?
New Jersey and the state's law legalising sports betting isn't up against just the federal government but also almost all amateur and professional sports leagues in the States including the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Football League (NFL), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Baseball (MLB).
Surprisingly, the pro and collegiate leagues themselves oppose the law, siding with the current administration's views that PASPA is constitutional because is does not force the states to actually do anything. With that idea originally in mind following the initial passing of the law, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted against the law 10-2.
New Jersey and Christie recently filed an appeal of this ruling to the Supreme Court, the highest judicial court in all of the United States, and received approval to be heard by the Justices. New Jersey wants the Court to review their case and rule on the constitutionality of PASPA's impact of the 2012 law, a chance they will now get following the big announcement.
Unfortunately, if the big news has got anyone excited for some sort of expansion of legal sports betting in the US, we'd suggest slowing down a bit. First off, like all things involving the American judicial system, the process takes time. The announcement was just that, an announcement of when they will hear the case, which won't be till sometime in between one and nine months after October.
Secondly, as we discussed, their have been other appeals and this one might meet a similar fate... failure. As is common practice, the Justices who actually supported the appeal 9-0 did not comment on their reasoning behind their motivation to rule on the appeal so most involved are in the dark on where the Justices themselves lie on on the issue.
Lastly, even if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Christie in the 'Christie v. NCAA, 16-476' case, many more appeals from the opposing side will be filed as the opposition (the current administration, the federal legal system and most sports leagues) has unlimited resources at their exposure. Fortunately, though, this announcement is certainly a step in the right direction toward legal US sports betting!
Thanks to New Jersey's efforts in the world of online poker, NJ punters in the mean time can enjoy digital poker rooms like the ones offered by PartyPoker's US-facing site. If you'd like to support an international betting company supporting the US market (as much as legally possible), head over to Party's suite of gambling sites today!