Us SCOTUS Overturns Decades Old Law About Sports Betting

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (Pub.L. 102–559), known as PASPA, is a judicially overturned law that was intended to define the legality of sports betting throughout America. This act outlawed sports betting, except for a few states.

The lotteries held in Oregon, Delaware, and Montana were exempt, as well as the licensed sports pools in Nevada. Congress provided a one-year window from the effective date of PASPA (January 1, 1993) for states which operated licensed casino gaming for the prior decade to pass laws allowing sports wagering. The latter exception was clearly crafted with New Jersey in mind. However, New Jersey failed to take advantage of this opportunity. Excluded from the reach of PASPA are jai alai as well as pari mutuel horse and dog racing.

In a May 2018 decision in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that PASPA conflicts with the Tenth Amendment.

Claimants of Doom

The American Supreme Court has overturned the ban on sports betting outside of Nevada. The ruling opens the door for other states to legalize sports gambling, but the “claimants of doom” won’t let the ruling ride off peacefully.

For the federal government to allow Nevada sports gambling and then disallow the other 49 states is unconstitutional claim many observers. The states should always been allowed to decide its own gaming laws.

Now they can, except for one.

New Jersey has taken the federal ruling to court — and lost. But no one is sure they won’t try again.

Late Night Showdown

In a last minute showdown a few moments before midnight on February 28, New Jersey’s attempts to start sports betting were blown back by a US. District Court which said that PASPA is constitutional and blocked New Jersey from legalizing sports betting.

At the beginning, the court stated federal statutes arrive with a presumption of constitutionality. The court, it said, was required to interpret federal statutes so that would make the statue constitutional if the interpretation is reasonable. The court went on to point out that although “some questions raised are novel, judicial intervention is unwarranted no matter how unwise a court considers the policy.”

The court began its review with an analysis of the question: Does PASPA exceed Congress’ powers under the Commerce clause?

The judge said Congress has expansive powers under the clause and regulating gambling is one of those powers. The court looked at the question previously to determine if a rational basis existed for Congress to decide if sports betting would have an effect on interstate commerce. Then, when PASPA was allowed, the court found sports betting was within the power of Congress to regulation.

The court found that Congress had a rational basis to allow four states to continue. The judge determined that Congress could consider the reliance and expected interests of the four states which already had sport begging in place. No heightened scrutiny was required, said the court, based on any grandfather clause affected those four states.

As a result, the justice decided that PASPA was within Congress’ Commerce Clause power.

Before ruling on New Jersey’s sports betting agenda, the court found PASPA to be constitutional. The judge found the Leagues would experience irreparable harm from sports betting and no monetary remedy would be available against the state.

New Jersey can appeal to the Third Circuit and request the Court speed the case through.

The Takeaway

Everyone that wants to gamble already is — no matter what state they live in. The New Jersey case highlights a return to prohibition thinking where everyone that wanted to consume alcohol was already doing so. What the federal government wanted, be damned.