There will not be a decision from the Supreme Court on sports betting until early next year. However, interested parties did get a glimpse at what arguments would look like when parties on both sides filed briefs with the court.
Several groups in addition to the plaintiffs and defendants filed briefs on the subject this week. The core issue at stake is the constituionality of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
New Jersey and a horse racing organization believe it needs to be struck down. The professional sports league think otherwise. But this ruling extends beyond just betting baseball. Several pro-states’ rights groups are teaming up with NJ to strike down perceived excessive federalism which violates the 10th Amendment.
Why is PASPA unconstitutional?
Yes, there are plenty of federal laws that supercede state measures. The difference between those laws and PASPA is in the wording.
Federal laws need to specify in their language that they supercede laws at the state level. New Jersey et al contend this law does not do that. In other words, just because the law exists does not automatically mean it takes precedent over laws at the state level.
New Jersey residents approved of sports betting via voter referendum by a 2-1 margin. Then New Jersey legislators passed multiple bills allowing sports betting through. Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill allowing sports betting into law.
In the state’s mind, PASPA interferes with the state’s ability to govern by claiming none of these actions can stand. PASPA basically forces the states to pass a law. In this case, it is a law the people of New Jersey obviously do not want.
This is a point 19 other states in the country agree with too. West Virginia filed a brief on the case, which numerous other states attached affiliation to as well.
The brief from West Virginia is not available to the public yet. Nonetheless, in previous arguments, the state’s Attorney General, Patrick Morrisey, made similar arguments:
The concern of Amici States—the States of West Virginia, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Wisconsin—is not what Congress regulates but how it does so. Even where it has Article I authority to act, Congress may not force the States to act as the vehicle for implementing federal policy and thereby shift to the States political accountability for its actions. Such coercion is unconstitutional commandeering.
What’s next for SCOTUS and for New Jersey?
The Supreme Court extended its deadline to file briefs on the case until Oct. 16. Once that date hits, the Justices will review the briefs, then begin their official judicial review.
As for what the world might look like if PASPA is struck down? This week, PlayNJ painted a picture of what a regulated sports betting market could look like in the Garden State.
The sports betting world is about more than just wagering after all. Casinos in the state are already experimenting with offerings akin to daily fantasy sports (DFS), for example. The DFS industry notoriously tries to avoid the gambling classification. Thankfully for them, the new bill Christie recently signed into law specifically states it is a game of skill.
As PlayNJ notes though, the opportunity between crossover between betting and DFS make for some interesting opportunities and some interesting regulatory questions should the case go New Jersey’s way.