U.S. Supreme Court Overturns Sports Gambling Ban

AP John Locher
AP Photo/John Locher

The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) moved to allow the state of New Jersey to legalize sports betting at its racetracks and casinos, on Monday. The new rule could open sports gambling in up to 46 states.

The 7-2 SCOTUS ruling in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association shot down federal rules that prohibited sports gambling in most U.S. states. The case was brought to the high court after the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that a New Jersey law allowing gambling violated the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), Sports Illustrated reported.

Many states, including New Jersey, have been eyeing sports gambling as a new source of tax revenue, but until now federal rules have stood in the way.

While many state legislatures are pleased with the new ruling, the major professional leagues have taken a stance against the growth of sports gambling and filed several lawsuits against New Jersey to try and stop its move towards enlarging gambling.

A recent statement from the various sports leagues player’s unions addressed the impact of gambling on players.

“Given the pending Supreme Court decision regarding the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) … The time has come to address not just who profits from sports gambling, but also the costs. Our unions have been discussing the potential impact of legalized gambling on players’ privacy and publicity rights, the integrity of our games and the volatility on our businesses,” the Players Associations said in January.

To date, only Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana are allowed sports gambling and are exempt from PASPA due to previously passed betting laws.

Justice Samuel Alito, a New Jersey native, wrote the court’s opinion in the case. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented, USA Today reported.

“Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own,” Alito wrote. “Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not.”

Geoff Freeman, president of the American Gaming Association, celebrated the ruling: “Today’s decision is a victory for the millions of Americans who seek to bet on sports in a safe and regulated manner. Today’s ruling makes it possible for states and sovereign tribal nations to give Americans what they want: an open, transparent, and responsible market for sports betting.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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