Three Possible Outcomes For The New Jersey Sports Betting Case

Now that the US Supreme Court has heard oral arguments in Christie vs. NCAA, we have to wait for the outcome of the sports betting case.

Now that the US Supreme Court has heard oral arguments in Christie vs. NCAA, the only thing we can do now is wait for the outcome of the sports betting case.

And speculate about it.

What will the Supreme Court ultimately decide about the federal sports wagering ban — PASPA — and the legality of NJ’s sports betting law? Will New Jersey get to offer sports betting next year? Here’s a look at the most likely scenarios.

1. PASPA is unconstitutional: Sports betting proliferates

Most Supreme Court observers and legal analysts seem to agree that New Jersey is a favorite to win its case to offer sports betting. There are a couple of ways that could happen.

One way? A majority of SCOTUS justices (there are nine) find that PASPA unconstitutionally “commandeers” New Jersey into keeping its prohibition of sports wagering on the books.

PASPA doesn’t actually ban sports betting at the federal level. It just freezes in place state laws that were already in place in 1992, when the law was enacted.

If the nation’s highest court says that PASPA is unconstitutional, it has two massive potential ramifications:

  • New Jersey could start offering sports betting almost immediately.
  • Other states would be free to repeal their sports betting prohibitions and start instituting new laws regulating the activity.

2. New Jersey can offer sports betting under PASPA: Narrow victory

New Jersey could also still win if the court finds that PASPA is constitutional.

The court could find both that PASPA is a good federal law and that New Jersey’s partial repeal is OK under PASPA.

That result could mean that the state government wouldn’t be able to come back and regulate, tax and license the activity. The law, as written, only makes it legal to offer sports wagering at Atlantic City casinos and at racetracks in the state.

New Jersey would take an end result where it could offer sports betting, but the scenario in No. 1 is what the state would prefer, and what it argued for in court.

3. PASPA is constitutional: No NJ sports betting

The worst-case scenario for New Jersey? The court says PASPA is constitutional, and New Jersey’s repeal is in violation of it.

That means no New Jersey sports betting any time soon. And no new sports betting anywhere else for that matter.

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When will we find out for NJ sports betting?

The Supreme Court will be releasing decisions in the first half of 2018 for cases it has heard this fall.

The soonest a decision could be rendered is in January. It’s far more likely, however, that a decision will come in March or later. June would be the latest we hear about what SCOTUS will rule.

So the waiting will continue for a few more months, at a minimum. And one of the scenarios above is the most likely outcome.

NJ’s Big Week For Sports Betting: Supreme Court Case Heard, New Bill Appears In Congress

New Jersey argued its sports betting case in front of the US Supreme Court, and a bill repealing the federal ban was introduced in Congress.

It was undoubtedly a big week for sports betting in the nation’s capital and New Jersey.

First, the state argued its case in front of the US Supreme Court to allow sports betting within its borders, and possibly to strike down the federal ban on sports wagering. Then, a new bill surfaced in Congress that would allow states to legalize and regulate sports wagering.

Here’s a look at what went down:

NJ sports betting and the Supreme Court

Christie vs. NCAA — the case about New Jersey’s sports betting law — saw oral arguments take place in the nation’s highest court.

On one side is Gov. Chris Christie, who signed into existence the law that partially repealed NJ’s own sports betting prohibition. He did so in the hopes of having legal sports betting at Atlantic City casinos and the state’s horse racing tracks.

On the other are the professional and amateur sports organizations — the NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB — who argue NJ’s action is illegal under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. PASPA is the law that bans single-game sports wagering outside of Nevada.

New Jersey had lost throughout the case in the lower federal courts, and an appeal to the Supreme Court appeared to be a longshot. But the court agreed to hear the case this summer.

What went down at oral arguments

So what exactly happened? The court date was an hour of questions and answers between the court’s nine justices and the lawyers for the two sides. The lawyers for the two sides — Ted Olson for NJ and Paul Clement for the leagues — were poked and prodded by the justices, and we got our first read on what they think about the case.

Many of them seemed to be sympathetic to New Jersey’s argument that PASPA is unconstitutional, in that it forces states to keep laws on the books that they don’t necessarily want. That’s called “commandeering,” in constitutional terms.

After oral arguments took place, a majority of the justices seem poised to side with New Jersey and strike down PASPA. But that’s just an educated guess from listening to oral arguments. A decision isn’t expected until some time in 2018.

If NJ wins and PASPA is struck down, that also means other states could potentially start legalizing sports wagering, something states like Pennsylvania and New York have already done.

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Sports betting bill in Congress?

The same day as the SCOTUS hearing, Congressman Frank Pallone (D – NJ) introduced his latest attempt to change the nation’s sports betting prohibition via Congress.

His bill — the GAME Act — would reform a number of the nation’s gaming laws. But chief among the legislation’s provisions would be a full repeal of PASPA.

If his bill were to pass, it would negate the need for the Supreme Court to rule against the law. But if New Jersey were to lose in the Supreme Court — still a very real possibility — sports betting could only happen in NJ and beyond if PASPA comes off the books.

So Pallone’s bill is a backup plan for a New Jersey loss. Also, it’s not clear a gaming bill could make its way through Congress in the current environment. It’s also an election year for the House in 2018, making it even trickier, politically.

Regardless, the momentum for New Jersey sports betting is picking up. And both the case and the bill offer the possibility that residents and visitors to the state can place sports wagers, perhaps as soon as 2018.

Which Will Open First: Hard Rock Atlantic City Or TEN/Revel?

In one corner, we have the former Trump Taj Mahal. In the other, we have the shuttered TEN, formerly Revel. Which New Jersey casino will reopen sooner?

In one corner, we have the former Trump Taj Mahal. In the other, we have the shuttered TEN, formerly Revel.

Which Atlantic City resort will reopen first? Our oddsmakers have been handicapping this showdown of closed casinos in NJ.

Hard Rock AC: Summer of 2018?

By all accounts, the former Trump Taj Mahal will open in the middle of next year. Hard Rock International bought the shuttered casino resort earlier this year, after it closed its doors in the fall of 2016. The company immediately revealed its plans to turn the Taj into an inviting and up-to-date resort, much like its other destination properties.

While the schedule can obviously suffer setbacks — it already has — the project has a lot going for it in terms of opening quickly.

  • Hard Rock is experienced with getting resorts up and running. It has set its intentions, and it’s unlikely to miss the mark by much, unless it encounters serious problems.
  • It’s not like Hard Rock was reinventing the wheel when it bought the Taj. The structure was already sound; it just needed a remodel and to be brought up to speed with the Hard Rock brand and feel.
  • If Hard Rock wants to open in 2018 it really ought to do it for peak season; otherwise, it would probably have just made more sense to take its time and wait for early 2019.

So we have a pretty good idea of when Hard Rock will open. But we have far less insight about what’s going on down the Boardwalk.

TEN/Revel: Who knows?

The drawn-out saga that is TEN — formerly Revel — is pretty well-known already.

The gleaming AC property built for billions closed down soon after it was built. While the property was bought for pennies on the dollar soon thereafter, it’s sat vacant ever since.

But of late, there has been a lot of chatter that current owner Glenn Straub would be selling to a new company, one that might actually think about reopening TEN. In November, there were signs that a sale was moving forward, although that has not yet been confirmed.

If a sale actually did happen, TEN/Revel — or whatever the new owners call the resort — would also likely be able to open quickly. The property doesn’t need much — if anything — in the way of remodeling. The big needs would be branding and staffing.

But counting TEN as actually being sold is still a dicey matter. And the longer it takes for the sale to go through, the longer it is until a prospective opening.

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Conclusion: Put your money on Hard Rock

If we had a completed sale of TEN on the horizon, it would be a favorite to beat Hard Rock to an official opening. But given the backstory of the troubled resort, we definitely can’t count on anything until it’s out of Straub’s hands.

That’s why the stable, international company with definitive plans is the current heavy favorite to open up its NJ casino first.

Will Billionaire Icahn Get Tax Dollars For Trump Plaza Implosion?

Billionaire Carl Icahn, owner of the Tropicana New Jersey casino, apparently wants monetary help with tearing down one of his old Atlantic City casinos.

Billionaire Carl Icahn apparently wants monetary help with tearing down one of his old Atlantic City casinos.

Icahn and the imploding Trump Plaza

We learned earlier this month that plans were afoot to tear down the Trump Plaza, one of several closed casinos in New Jersey.

The new part of the equation? That demolition may take place thanks to help from tax money paid by casinos, as first reported by the Press of AC.

A Casino Reinvestment Development Authority meeting is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. On the agenda for the meeting is the “preliminary determination of project eligibility” for using CRDA money for imploding Trump Plaza.

More from the Press of AC:

The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, which receives the Investment Alternative Tax funds through a 1.25 percent tax on each casino’s annual gross gaming revenue, will discuss the request at its meeting Tuesday. …

Icahn is asking the agency to use what his company has paid into the fund to pay for part of demolition cost, said Chris Howard, executive director of the agency.

Given that Icahn and Trump Plaza did pay into this fund — and that the implosion would seem to fit into the CRDA’s mission — it doesn’t seem like a far-fetched request.

Icahn is still involved with AC as the owner of the Tropicana, but he no longer owns the shuttered Trump Taj Mahal.

Something new for AC?

Getting rid of the vacant Trump Plaza could lead to new investment in the city, which has already attracted money from Hard Rock International and Stockton University.

What might go on the site of the Plaza is still a matter of speculation. But it is a prime piece of AC property for a city that appears to be on the rebound.

Farewell to Trump casinos in New Jersey

If and when Trump Plaza comes down, it would be the last vestige of President Donald Trump’s name in a town that used to be synonymous with the former New Jersey casino owner.

The Taj Mahal closed last year and is on its way to becoming a Hard Rock resort and casino in 2018. Golden Nugget is the resort situated on the property that was once known as Trump’s Castle and Trump Marina.

Image credit: cheapbooks / Shutterstock.com

Atlantic City Gets A New Mayor: What Does It Mean For NJ Casinos And Gambling?

Democrat Frank Gilliam Jr. won Atlantic City’s mayorship after what many would call a less-than-stellar first and only term for Don Guardian, a Republican.

Former Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian oversaw one of the bleakest periods in the history of the resort town.

But he’s not going to be in office to see the end result of a potential turnaround for AC. Democrat Frank Gilliam Jr. won last week’s election after what many would call a less-than-stellar first and only term for Guardian, a Republican.

What’s all that mean for the future of the New Jersey town, both overall and for its casino industry?

Gilliam > Guardian

Gilliam did not exactly take the mayor’s office over in AC with a mandate, in narrowly defeating Guardian. That’s perhaps surprising given that Guardian was in charge when the state came in to take over the city’s finances.

To be sure, that certainly wasn’t all Guardian’s fault. The circumstances that led to AC’s financial woes and the five closed casinos in NJ came before Guardian took over. Gilliam, though, as also on the city council before and during Guardian’s term.

Coupled with the win by Gov.-elect Phil Murphy, Atlantic City returns to Democratic leadership. Murphy has intimated he wants to end the state takeover instituted by outgoing Gov. Chris Christie.

That would mean AC would again be left to its own devices, for better or worse.

Gilliam comes to power with AC ascendant

There is no question the mayor elect comes into a better situation than his predecessor. Guardian was on the clock when five AC casinos closed:

Next year, the Taj will reopen under the direction of Hard Rock International, which is revamping and rebranding the resort. There has also been chatter that Revel (now TEN) could be sold and reopened, although that story changes weekly. Showboat is open again, as a resort only.

And thanks to the presence of NJ online gambling, casino revenues are better than they have been in years.

And things are gong well on other fronts as well. Stockton University is working on a satellite campus in the city, and South Jersey Gas will also have a new corporate headquarters in AC.

The bottom line: Gilliam is coming into a position where he’s primed to succeed.

Where does Gilliam stand on casinos and the future of AC

Casinos do not seem to be a cornerstone of the incoming mayor’s plans, even though they account for a disproportionate amount of revenue and jobs in AC.

What do we know so far? From The New Jersey Herald:

The mayor-elect wants to add affordable housing; clean up Pacific Avenue, the blighted strip that backs up to the Boardwalk casinos; attract more non-gambling development and provide incentives for small businesses.

According to Philly.com:

“We’re going to be a business-friendly-orientated community, an employment-orientated community, a family-friendly-orientated community and, more importantly, we’re going to take care of our community,” Gilliam said. “Now it’s time for us to take the front seat.”

That sounds like someone who will not necessarily market AC as a gaming destination.

Where will AC head in the next four years? Well learn more in the weeks and months ahead as Gilliam’s plans and agenda become more clear.

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Trump’s Name Soon To Be Erased From Atlantic City When It Blows Up Trump Plaza

Trump Plaza is counting its final days in Atlantic City, with an implosion of the shuttered New Jersey casino property planned for early 2018.

Trump Plaza is counting its final days.

Once one of the crown jewels of Atlantic City, Trump Plaza will be imploded in the spring of next year, according to The Press of AC.

Farewell, Trump Plaza

The Plaza is one of a number of closed casinos in NJ that shuttered in 2014 in a period of economic instability for the casino town.

Some have bounced back (see the Showboat) while others still stand empty (see TEN/Revel).

The decision to blow up the Plaza will certainly be a new chapter in the history of AC.

Bye bye, Trump’s name

Now president, Donald Trump‘s name was once synonymous with AC. Now, the three resorts that once bore his name are soon to be gone.

Other than the Trump Plaza:

It’s an inglorious end for a property that once was a have for high roller and hosted some of the biggest prize fights of its day, including Mike Tyson vs. Michael Spinks bout in 1988.

Good news for AC that Trump Plaza is going away

The opportunity to build something new where the Trump Plaza now stands is going to be enticing, according to the Press of AC story:

Tearing down the Plaza could increase interest in the property, said Ken Calemmo, chief operating officer of Cooper Levenson and co-chair of the Economic Development Committee of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber.

“The first thing you need to recognize is that the Plaza has one of the best locations in the city,” Calemmo said. “It sits at the base of the expressway and in the center of the Boardwalk. You are guaranteed 29 million plus visitors passing by every year.”

What will go up in Trump Plaza’s place? We’ll likely have to wait until it’s reduced to rubble to find out.

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Image credit: cheapbooks / Shutterstock.com