New Jersey was once one of the major hubs for betting in the United States but things have gone south for the area in recent years. Atlantic City has fallen off the map in terms of being a destination for avid sports bettors. A massive hurricane hit the boardwalk and the hits have continued with a number of surrounding states loosening their gambling laws to pull away foot traffic. The state is looking to get back into the game by legalizing sports betting, which would be a huge win, but the Supreme Court is now being called upon to make a decision.
The state of New Jersey has been battling for years over a single federal law: PASPA. This law stands for the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, and it is known as the Bradley Act as it was named after former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley, who was trying to stop sports betting from spreading.
It passed into the Senate in June 1992 and then-President George Bush made it law in October of that year. However, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been at the helm of repealing this law as he wants to use betting revenue to help offset the problems being faced by the state’s casinos and racetracks. The four major leagues, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL and Major League Baseball, along with the NCAA, got involved as they want everything to stay the same (keeping sports betting illegal), claiming that there would be more instances of match fixing. Even with many believing that argument to be ludicrous – especially with legal sports betting in Las Vegas where the NFL is set to move – it hasn’t been going well for the state. They’ve suffered a number of defeats in the courts.
The Supreme Court recently asked New Jersey’s Solicitor General for a briefing of the case so far as it looks into whether or not the state can repeal its own laws. This is encouraging as the Supreme Court usually simply denied the appeals, so now that they’re willing to look into it, the outlook isn’t as gloomy as most thought it was going to be. The American Gaming Association stated that the law itself is the key to a $150 billion market in illegal sports betting – whether it is online or offline – and getting the government involved would be great for the safety of the players.
What it would also do is help redirect some of that $150 billion towards the government instead of companies offshore in other countries. They surely could find a number of ways to put that to use. If successful, it will pave the way for other states looking at the PASPA law as New York is thinking about challenging it.
New Jersey claims to have backup plans if the Supreme Court eventually denies the appeal but there is some mild optimism these days. Don’t be surprised if President Donald Trump gets involved at some point as he’s been a big proponent of putting American interests first and stopping sports betting dollars from going offshore fits right in with a lot of his other campaign strategies.