New Jersey Sports Betting Case Inches Closer To Its Day In US Supreme Court

[toc]The effort to legalize sports betting in New Jersey has dragged on for five years, but the end might be in sight.

Earlier this week, the US Solicitor General’s office summoned several parties in the case for a meeting. Later, ESPN reporter David Purdum reported the solicitor general should have a brief on the case filed with the US Supreme Court by May.

With this timeline, the Supreme Court could decide whether or not to hear the case by June.

What does this brief really mean regarding the sports betting case?

In January, the Supreme Court requested the SG file a brief on whether the case is worthy of consideration from the nation’s highest court. The acting Solicitor General is Jeff Wall. President Donald Trump’s nominee for the position, Noel Francisco, has not been confirmed yet.

The NJ sports betting case was the only one that SCOTUS requested a brief on in January, from a list of more than 130 cases.

If Wall’s brief states the case if worth hearing, it dramatically increases the chances SCOTUS will add the case to the docket and hear the case sometime in the next year.

The meeting with the involved parties in the sports betting case and the Solicitor General is going to take place on April 10. The long list of people and groups involved in the case include:

  • NFL
  • NBA
  • MLB
  • NHL
  • NCAA
  • NJ Gov. Chris Christie
  • State Senate President Stephen Sweeney
  • Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto
  • New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association

Brief history of the NJ sports betting case

New Jersey attempted to pass laws to allow sports betting in the state on two separate occasions. In 2012, the state passed a law regulating sports betting, which was shot down in the US Third Circuit Court of Appeal. The court said the state could decriminalize sports betting, but it could not regulate it.

In 2014, the state partially repealed its sports betting laws to legalized it. Once again, sports leagues descended on the case and filed suit. The Third Circuit ruled 2-1 in favor of the sports leagues in 2015. The state then fought for an en banc rehearing of all the justices of the court. The justices again ruled against the law.

That is how the case made it to this point. If the Supreme Court hears the case and rules in favor of New Jersey, it could open up sports betting nationwide. The federal law at the center of the case is the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. PASPA prohibits sports betting in most of the US.

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Are the leagues loosening their anti-sports betting stance?

The chief opponents in this case are the professional sports leagues and the NCAA, which oversees college athletics. Some of the leagues — most notably the NBA and MLB — have become more open to the idea of expanding sports betting in the US.

In 2014, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver penned an op-ed for the New York Times endorsing sports betting. Moreover, the leagues also came to embrace daily fantasy sports. Many see little difference between DFS and sports betting, both of which involve using your knowledge of a sport and a money wager to try to win more money.

The NFL recently decided to move the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas, where sports betting is legal. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred continues to say positive things about sports betting.

What if the Supreme Court says no to the case?

There is still a decent chance the Supreme Court opts not to hear the case. If that happens, it is the end of the road for New Jersey’s current legal battle.

The state could attempt to pass another sports betting law and start the legal battle over again. Or, one of the other states with legislation designed to challenge PASPA — like West Virginia and Michigan — could lead the charge to push for legal sports betting.

About the Author

Jessica Welman

Jessica Welman is a longtime member of the poker media and online gambling world. She has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and served as the managing editor for Welman has been involved for livestreams for the WSOP and WPT and worked as a consultant on many other poker productions. She can be found on Twitter @jesswelman.