State lawmakers passed a bill in 2011 legalizing sports betting at racetracks inside the state and New Jersey casinos. But before the framework could be set up, major sports leagues including the National Football League, National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball filed suit, challenging New Jersey’s right to legalize sports betting.
The case ultimately revolved around New Jersey challenging the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). This is the law that essentially created a federal ban on sports betting everywhere except Nevada.
It also allowed for existing NFL parlay sports betting in Delaware and game square wagering in Montana. However, the case has not gone well for New Jersey.
The New Jersey PASPA challenge
A district court upheld the federal ban on sports betting in 2013. New Jersey appealed twice. However, the state lost two straight 2-1 decisions by the Third Circuit Court. The state asked the US Supreme Court to hear the case, however, Acting US Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall filed a brief last month recommending the court not take up the case.
The US Supreme Court, which traditionally follows the Solicitor General’s advice on hearing cases, is expected to announce a decision on whether to hear the case later this month.
In the meantime, New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. is taking the battle for legalized sports betting in New Jersey in a different direction. Pallone previously asked Wall to write a brief prompting the US Supreme Court to hear New Jersey’s PASPA case.
At the end of May, Pallone released a draft of a bill that calls for the repeal of PASPA and ultimately authorizes states to legalize sports betting.
The GAME Act
The name of the legislation is The Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act, or GAME Act. In addition, the bill would also clarify states like New Jersey’s ability to legalize online gambling, provided solid consumer protections and regulations are included.
According to Pallone, it’s time for the federal government to allow individual states to make a decision on how they want to handle what is already a billion dollar industry in America, whether there is a federal ban on it or not.
“Despite the federal gaming laws in place today, Americans are betting up to $400 billion a year on sporting events alone,” Pallone said. “It’s time to recognize that the laws are outdated, and the GAME Act will modernize them by increasing transparency, integrity, and consumer protections.”
Pallone ultimately claims illegal gambling and offshore online gambling operations skirting federal laws are prevalent in the United States. He’s hoping The GAME Act will remove the federal obstacles to legalized gambling at the state level. His ultimate goal is to see the billion dollar industry brought back to American soil, with proper taxes and regulations in place.
Hope for legal NJ sports betting
The GAME Act will stop short of creating a federal framework for gambling. However, the bill will allow states to legalize and regulate sports betting and online gambling if they want to.
Now, Pallone is seeking input from stakeholders and citizens. Whether the US Supreme Court hears New Jersey’s PASPA challenge or not, legal sports betting in this state, and others, still has a hope.
Image credit:John Arehart / Shutterstock.com