New Jersey Supreme Court Case Made Simple

Most sports bettors are somewhat familiar with the upcoming Supreme Court case regarding sports betting in New Jersey. While some may call it the case to legalize sports betting, that isn’t entirely true. If New Jersey wins, the state will have the ability to legalize sports betting. So will every other state, much like how certain states have legalized small amounts of marijuana. Not all of them have, although they do have the option, which is what New Jersey is fighting for.

Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992

The obstacle standing in the way of states being allowed to offer sports betting is the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which is usually just called PAPSA. The act prohibits states from offering new forms of sports betting that weren’t in place when the bill was passed. That’s why Nevada is able to offer single-game wagering and Delaware is forced to offer parlay wagering on football games.

There are several things wrong with PAPSA, which have been brought up in lower courts and the United States Supreme Court must agree to an extent to agree to hear the case.

Equal Sovereignty                                                                                                               The principle of equal sovereignty says that all states have to be treated equal. Those in favor of New Jersey argue for the government to say Nevada can offer a full range of sports betting and New Jersey cannot violates that principle.

Anti-Commandeering                                                                                                             The anti-commandeering argument basically states that federal government is “commandeering” the laws of a state by not letting the individual states decide their own gambling laws.

“Congress may give states a choice of regulating to federal standards or ceding the issue to federal control,” the Pacific Legal Foundation wrote in a ‘friends of the Court’ brief. “But Congress cannot deny states that choice and simply dictate what their own laws shall be.”

While there are several other matters, such as the right of Congress to pass laws that benefit a private entity, such as the NCAA or the professional sports leagues, the equal sovereignty/anti-commandeering arguments are the two most likely to catch the attention of the court. Clearly, the decision will affect much more than just sports betting, as the rights of states are at the forefront of the case.

About the only thing that is certain is that case has often yielded unexpected results. After the solicitor general recommended that the Supreme Court not hear the case, the Supreme Court went against his recommendation and put the case on their docket.

Now, a fair number of people believe that New Jersey will win the case, but being the favorite in Christie vs. NCAA hasn’t always been the best position to be in.