Monday, December 5, was a big day for sports betting industry in the United States. Namely, this was the first day of the Supreme Court hearing in New Jersey’s attempt to overturn the infamous PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act). Although nothing is clear as of yet, the initial impression is things are going in Garden State’s favor. Should this continue, the outdated act from 1992 could finally be repelled.
Skepticism over Constitutionality
New Jersey bases its case on the grounds that the PASPA, as such, is unconstitutional. In the event you are new to the whole deal, a brief explanation. Passed in 1992, the PASPA outlawed sports betting in all but a few US states. New Jersey is arguing this is against the Constitution.
These arguments were brought forth on Monday by Ted Olson representing the Garden State. Quoting the Commerce Clause and the Tenth Amendment, he emphasized that a federal act cannot be applied to particular states, while exempting others.
Justices Leaning in Favor of the Argument
From the reaction of a few justices (of nine in total), it is clear the Supreme Court favors New Jersey’s position at this point in time. According to Justice Anthony Kennedy, the federal government is forcing the citizens of NJ to uphold the law they clearly don’t want. Similar sentiments were echoed by Justice Steven Breyer. He emphasized the government cannot tell the state how to legislate.
This is a big encouragement for Governor Chris Christie and New Jersey. Although the final decision won’t be given before June or July next year, this makes it clear that there are good grounds for the case.
However, not all justices seem swayed just yet. Sonia Sotomayor, John Robers, and Elena Kagan still hold that the federal decision supercedes the state-level decision. The NCAA, representing the other side in this lawsuit, has the same position on the matter. Mr. Paul Clement stated that New Jersey is trying to turn the statute into a constitutional problem, which it clearly isn’t.
Initial Predictions Favoring New Jersey
After the hearing, voices could be heard in favor of New Jersey winning the dispute. Daniel Wallach, a gaming attorney, predicted the vote would go 6 to 3 in favor of the Garden State.
All this being said, one can never know with politics. Things often change surprisingly and unexpectedly. While New Jersey had its day at court on Monday and things went better than expected, there is still a lot hanging in the balance.
Overturning the PASPA would be a decision with major implications all across the US. It would allow individual states to form their own laws and legalize sports betting as they see fit. Major US leagues are concerned over this particular aspect, as they have fears over the sports’ integrity. From their point of view, if the PASPA is overturned, it would be better to have a law on the federal level regulating the entire industry.