After years of court battles, appeals, and denials, New Jersey’s battle to bring sports betting to the Garden State appears to have finally found a court with a sympathetic ear.
Christie vs. NCAA
The state took its case against the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) to the US Supreme Court this week. After oral arguments were heard, most pundits were predicting a 6-3 judgment in favor of New Jersey. A decision is expected sometime in the first half of 2018.
However, the reaction to oral arguments in Christie vs. NCAA from certain members of Congress suggests in really doesn’t matter which way SCOTUS leans.
The $150 billion a year illegal underground sports betting market
For years, the American Gaming Association has been claiming the federal ban on sports betting everywhere outside of Nevada, NFL parlay sports betting in Delaware, and game square wagering in Montana, has been fueling an illegal underground sports betting market generating $150 billion each year.
The organization has been pushing for Congress to take its head out of the sand and stop ignoring it. It would appear that now, Congress is finally listening.
Calling for a congressional hearing
After both sides presented their arguments at the Supreme Court Monday, 1st District of Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus began her own push for Congress to address the issue.
Rep. Titus wrote a letter to House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ) asking the committee hold a hearing on the future of sports betting in the United States.
The GAME Act
In the meantime, Rep. Pallone was doing a little work of his own on the same front. Rep. Pallone announced he would be introducing a comprehensive gaming bill called the Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act, or GAME Act, to Congress.
The legislation would allow states to legalize sports betting within their borders, regardless of where SCOTUS lands on the issue.
Rep. Pallone said if oral arguments in Christie vs. NCAA showed him one thing, it was that there are serious question as to whether PASPA violates the Constitution.
He also said he was hopeful the Supreme Court will decide in New Jersey’s favor. But either way, the GAME Act would provide the necessary legal framework for states to move forward.
According to Rep. Titus, there are as many as 13 states that considered sports betting this year.
A SCOTUS decision in favor of New Jersey would certainly help things along. But with the wheels of the federal government now turning in the direction of legal, regulated, and taxed sports betting in states that want it, one way or another, it’s coming.