by Kevin Daley
The U.S. Supreme Court Monday struck down a federal law effectively banning sports betting in most states.
The decision is a boon for sports enthusiasts and dozens of states that hope to fill coffers with gambling revenue. The American Gaming Association estimates that Americans wager $150 billion in illegal sports gambling markets every year.
At issue in the litigation is the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which restricts sports betting to Nevada and allows limited sports lotteries in Delaware, Montana, and Oregon. In a bid to revive Atlantic City’s faltering economic prospects, New Jersey decriminalized sports betting in 2014.
A coalition of professional athletic associations led by the NCAA sued the state, arguing New Jersey was in violation of PASPA. In turn, New Jersey argued that PASPA is unconstitutional, since it compels the state to carry out a federal policy against its will. This, they argue, violates the principles of federalism laid out in the Constitution.
“It is as if federal officers were installed in state legislative chambers and were armed with the authority to stop legislators from voting on any offending proposals,” Alito wrote in his opinion for the Court. “A more direct affront to state sovereignty is not easy to imagine.”
Alito’s opinion was joined in full by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Elena Kagan, and Neil Gorsuch and in part by Justice Stephen Breyer. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
The nation’s largest sports contest providers promised new platforms for facilitating athletic wagers in the coming weeks.
“Our mission has always been to bring fans closer to the sports they love and now, thanks to the wisdom of the Supreme Court, DraftKings will be able to harness our proven technology to provide our customers with innovative online sports betting products,” DraftKings CEO and co-founder Jason Robins said in a statement shortly after the ruling. “This ruling gives us the ability to further diversify our product offerings and build on our unique capacity to drive fan engagement.”
Many states, including New Jersey, are expected to open gambling exchanges and establish regulatory schemes in time for the 2018-2019 NFL season.
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Disclosure: The author’s wife works for a law firm involved in this case.
Kevin Daley is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation. Follow Kevin on Twitter.