For years, the state of New Jersey has been battling for legalized sports betting in direct opposition to the powerful lobbying efforts of the largest professional sports organizations in the country. The state’s goal is to legally allow sports betting in race tracks and casinos. Late last month, in what might be considered a major blow to the New Jersey sports gambling effort, the US Solicitor General’s office issued a recommendation that the Supreme Court should not hear the state’s case against the NCAA and other sports orginazations on the issue of legalizing sports gambling in the US.
At the beginning of the year, the Supreme Court requested a brief from the Solicitor General’s office on the matter of two cases. The New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association v. NCAA, et al.; and Chris Christi, et al. v. NCAA, et al. Both of these cases dealt directly with the federal governments nearly total prohibition on legal sports betting in the country. That brief was filed late last month and included a statement by the acting Solicitor General, Jeffrey B. Wall and a few other government attorneys that the state of New Jersey failed to raise sufficient constitutional dilemmas with the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. This resulted in the recommendation to not see these issues in the Supreme Court.
Although the Supreme Court could ignore the recommendation by the Solicitor General, the chances of that are minute. There is one more option for the state of New Jersey and that is full repeal. As written by the Solicitor General, “If New Jersey wishes to repeal its prohibition on sports gambling altogether and thereby remain silent with respect to such gambling … PASPA does not stand in its way.”
Quite similar to what Colorado did with Marijuana, in fact. Repealing all of New Jersey’s laws on sports betting would make it legal at the state level to practice all forms, leaving it up to the federal government to decide if they want to intervene. Local sports bookies would be legally allowed by the state to take bets and collect winnings without any fear of the state’s law enforcement agencies.
Legal adviser to the New Jersey Racetracks that are seeking to add sports books, Dennis Drazin, seems to hold the opinion that if the state were to fully abolish all US sports gambling laws it would result in the major sports organizations to request new legislation. His theory is that these requests would be to allow sports betting but only under certain circumstances, which would be considered a win by today’s standards.
There are some professional sports organizations to have been softening their stances a bit on sports gambling to move more towards a European ideal where sports gambling is legal, regulated, and taxed. Yet, there are still too many powerful opponents for this type of move in legislature but the future remains hopeful according to Drazin.
“I think five years from now, sports betting will be legal,” Drazin said. “I also think this country has a lot more important things to deal with first, so it’s that not that high on Congress’ radar right now. We just need to be patient.”