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Legal Sports Betting Sites Are Coming to America in 2018: Murphy v. NCAA

Lucky for New Jersey sport betters, on May 14th 2018, the Supreme Court has decided that States are allowed to legalize and regulate sportsbetting in the USA.

The court held oral arguments December 2017 to repeal a federal law to legalize sports betting (Christie v. NCAA), a case that has traveled on a winding road for Gov. Chris Christie and gambling proponents relentlessly pushing the repeal judge to judge, hearing through hearing since 2012. And as much as this is an effort by Christie and company to legitimize sport gambling, it’s a state rights case study, one with an assortment of implications far beyond sports betting in N.J.

New Jersey Sports Betting Sites – The Case for Legalization

Although N.J.’s illegal betting revenue isn’t definitive (some advocates say around $10 billion a year), the state’s legal online casinos generated $245,605,981 last year. That’s around $37 million in tax revenues. Apply the online 15 percent tax rate to N.J.’s illegal gambling amount and boom, 1.5 billion, idea being casinos and racetracks will presumably generate billions of state revenue for urban revitalization and to help N.J. residents in need.

How this all landed with SCOTUS requires dialing back to 1992 when the Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was signed into law. With exception to Nevada, Delaware, Montana, and Oregon, the law prohibits states from legalizing or regulating sports gambling. At the time, these states mostly legalized sports lotteries to slip past the law. N.J. could’ve joined this list but failed to enact sports gambling before PASPA became law.

Nearly 30 years later, in 2011 64 percent of voters in N.J. voted to legalize sports betting at casinos and racetracks prompting Gov. Christie and the N.J. legislature to enact the “Sports Wagering Act.” This alarmed the NCAA, NHL, MLB, and NFL, and the leagues sued, asserting that Gov. Christie’s new state law violated PASPA, a federal law (years before, the same leagues won a similar lawsuit in Delaware) and diminished the integrity of the leagues.

All of the team Christie arguments were dismissed, overruled. Attempting once again in 2014 (otherwise called Christie II), Gov. Christie legalized sports waging and the NCAA swept back in, filed a lawsuit once more. Team Christie held strong, refuting that PASPA violates the 10th Amendment. After a few more failed appeals–losing in front of a panel of Third Circuit justices and an en banc hearing–team Christie appealed once more to SCOTUS on Oct. 6, 2016. The court then asks the Department of Justice Solicitor General to weigh in. He says not to take it. But the court does and oral arguments took place on Dec. 4, 2017 where team Christie argued that PASPA subjects the state of New Jersey to federal law, not the people to federal law.

“PASPA has thus had the perverse effect of pushing an enormous market underground by way of federal decree while stamping out state and local efforts to adapt their own laws pursuant to their own citizens’ wishes,” says a Christie briefing filed last September. “Regulation of sports betting needs to be accomplished in a sensible manner that promotes, rather than thwarts, the strictures and principles of federalism.”

NJ Is Not Alone, Other States Have Also Worked on Legislation

These claims aren’t isolated. Eighteen states and three governors have voiced support of N.J. in its prolonged effort. And across the US there are more than $150 billion illegal bets a year; this year’s Super Bowl brought in $4.6 billion; according to the Christie brief, the 2017 March Madness reigned upwards of $15 billion, 97 percent of which were carried-out illegally. The December hearing bore more praise from justices than from years ago and advocates and legislators have been all-eyes; House Representative Frank Pallone, D-N.J., introduced the Gaming Accountability Modernization Enhancement Act of 2017 (Section 8 repeals all of PASPA); states have begun the process of passing legislation in Mississippi, Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut, readying in case the court rules in favor.

Legal Sports Betting: The Day Draws Near

Even if it appears that justices do lean for team Christie and N.J. law, and they’d need five justices, portions of PASPA could be repealed only applicable to N.J. state gambling, not to states as a whole. A study conducted by the Rockefeller Institute in 2016 presents how legalization of sports gambling is an unsustainable revenue, often a short-term bump, whereas advocates would disagree–it’s an illegal activity that’s inevitable.

Any day now SCOTUS will emerge with a verdict that could either bless N.J. and casinos and racetracks or eviscerate all their dreams and rule with the NCAA and betting opponents. The most significant day in modern-day sports gambling lies ahead.