HomePublicationsNewsletter ArchiveNewslettersVolume 23Issue 22U.S. SUPREME COURT TO HEAR NJ CHALLENGE TO FEDERAL SPORTS BETTING BAN

On June 26, 2017, the United States Supreme Court announced its decision to hear New Jersey’s challenge to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”).  The PASPA was enacted in 1992 and banned sports betting with the exception of state lotteries in Oregon, Delaware and Montana, as well as Nevada’s licensed sports betting.  PASPA also exempted pari-mutuel horse racing, dog racing and jai alai from the ban.  Finally, PASPA provided a one-year window in which any state could opt to pass legislation authorizing sports betting provided that the state permitted licensed gaming within the time period of 1982-1992.

In 2014, New Jersey passed a law that authorized sports betting.  The four major sports leagues (MLB, NBA, NHL and NFL), along with the NCAA, challenged the law in a federal lawsuit.  Upon appeal, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, in 2016, that the law violated PASPA, a decision that the Supreme Court will now review in its next fall session.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie indicated that he was “thrilled”:

“The fact that the Supreme Court granted cert. in this case is a very good sign for sports betting having a future in New Jersey,” he said. “I’m encouraged by it. We’re not declaring victory, but at least we’re in the game, and that’s what we want to be.”

The American Gaming Association issued a press release praising the Supreme Court’s decision.  AGA’s president and CEO Geoff Freeman stated:

“The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 has failed to protect sports and fans. PASPA, which is approaching its 25th anniversary, is fueling an unregulated $150 billion illegal gambling market that continues to deprive states of vital public funding for services such as law enforcement and infrastructure. 

We are pleased the Supreme Court appears to have responded favorably to our arguments as to why they should hear this important case. And we are hopeful their engagement will provide further encouragement for Congress to take the steps necessary to create a regulated sports betting marketplace in the United States. 

The gaming industry, and the American Sports Betting Coalition, is committed to working with all relevant stakeholders to build a system that protects states' rights, fans and the integrity of sports." 

When enacted, PAPSA had broad support from all four major sports leagues, but that support has wavered in recent years.  NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has openly called for a regulated sports gambling marketplace and MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred and MLS Commissioner Don Garber have both requested a reexamination of the federal ban.  While both the NFL and NHL remain publicly against the ban, the NFL recently approved a franchise relocation to Las Vegas and an expansion NHL franchise begins play this fall in Las  Vegas.


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