Oral arguments in December, ruling early 2018
To be clear, Dec. 4 is not the day SCOTUS will rule on the case. Rather, it is the day both sides present oral arguments. The sports betting arguments come one day before the infamous gay rights wedding cake case gets its chance to present to SCOTUS.
The case pits the state of New Jersey and the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association against the collective of almost all major sports leagues. The lower courts universally sided with the leagues. However, most believe the Supreme Court would not agree to hear the case if it did not think the state had a case.
The impact of this ruling extends beyond just sports betting. The issue at the heart of the matter is really federalism and the concept of states’ rights.
Essentially, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) allows betting to be legal in some states, but not others. The question is, does this violate the 10th Amendment? This is why many groups outside of the betting world filed briefs in this case as well. Among them are 20 different states’ attorneys general.
What comes after Dec. 4 for sports betting?
As mentioned, the upcoming court date is only when SCOTUS hears the arguments. After hearing oral arguments on all the cases on their docket, the justices recess to write opinions. Given that the case is one of several, do not expect an official ruling until the spring.
Should the court rule in favor of sports betting, which seems to be the more likely outcome at the moment, it opens the door for states besides New Jersey to offer sports betting as well.
New Jersey already passed a law to offer sports betting. If SCOTUS overturns PASPA, it is the state best positioned to start taking wagers at NJ casinos first.
However, other states are preparing for a favorable outcome. A recent report from Eilers & Krejcik predicts as many as 30 states will offer sports betting by 2023. Currently the following states either passed or introduced sports betting legislation in anticipation of a PAPSA reversal:
- New York
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
This comes alongside a recent Washington Post poll which says more people in the country want sports betting nationwide than do not. The changing tide marks the first time the population preferred more sports betting to less.