The long-awaited decision from the US Supreme Court on the New Jersey sports betting case — and possibly the direction for wagering around the US — is on the way.
After several years of hearings, litigation, and deliberation regarding the legality of the federal sports wagering ban, we could be just weeks or months away from a verdict that allows single-game betting beyond Nevada. The Supreme Court issued some decisions on Wednesday, but the NJ sports betting case — Christie vs. NCAA — was not among them.
The ruling on New Jersey’s case to legalize sports betting could be the weathervane that indicates the future of the activity in this country. And that ruling could come down as early as next month, or perhaps even sooner.
When will a ruling be made in NJ sports betting case?
Oral arguments in New Jersey’s case to legalize sports betting were held in December of last year, and the Supreme Court is still mulling over the case. Yet several pundits told ESPN in early February that a decision on New Jersey’s case could be made by March.
It could come even sooner, potentially:
In addition to releasing decisions on non-argument days the Court often releases decisions on argument days. So there could be more releases next week, with three argument days scheduled. There's really no way to predict when we'll get the #sportsbetting decision though.
— Christopher Soriano (@CLSoriano) February 21, 2018
No matter what, a decision is definitely expected before the Supreme Court’s summer recess in July. Pinpointing an exact date is difficult as the court does not provide advance notice for the release of case rulings.
The likely timeframe for a ruling is within the first few weeks of March or early or late April. It is possible, though, that a decision is not announced until May or June.
What does the ruling mean for the future of sports betting?
One way or another, five of the nine Supreme Court justices must agree on the core decision of the case.
The case pits the state of New Jersey vs. the NCAA, NFL, and other professional leagues. It’s focused on the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which is the federal ban on state-sponsored sports betting outside of Nevada. The act prohibits legal sports betting in most states.
If the Supreme Court rules in New Jersey’s favor, the state’s racetracks and casinos (and the NJ online gambling sites) would be able to begin offering sports betting while potentially setting the standard for the future of sports wagering in other states.
When oral arguments were heard in December, 20 states signed on in support of New Jersey. Four states — Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, and Mississippi — had already passed legislation paving the way for legalized sports betting if the federal ban is lifted.
There is the potential for New Jersey to win its case, though it would be a slim victory. A ruling could allow for the state to offer sports betting, but that PASPA is still a good federal law. In this instance, the state’s government would not be able to regulate, tax, or license sports wagering. And other states would have to follow NJ’s lead in simply decriminalizing sports wagering if they want to offer it.
The worst-case scenario for New Jersey — heck, for sports betting — is that PASPA is ruled constitutional. Under these circumstances, New Jersey would not be allowed to offer legal sports betting anytime soon — nor would any other state in the country.