By Jonathan Willis
Sports bettors across the United States are eagerly anticipating the ruling of Christie v. NCAA sometime in the next few months. The result of the ruling will determine whether or not states other than Nevada can allow fully legal sports betting in all of its forms. This case will be combined with New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen v. NCAA, a case that has attracted considerably less attention due to its more complex nature.
Will the Supreme Court reverse the lower court’s decision in Christie v. NCAA, which would allow states to legalize sports betting?
The crux of this case is the legality of the Professional and Amateur Sports Act (PAPSA). PAPSA was passed in 1992 to prevent sports betting in states that did not already allow it in some shape or form. There were exceptions for Nevada, which already had sports betting, New Jersey, Delaware, and Montana. The latter three states did not have outright sports betting, but state-sponsored lotteries or parlay cards instead.
For almost two decades, PAPSA was virtually unchallenged as the four major sports leagues and the NCAA fully supported it and threatened to flex their muscle if states mounted challenges to it. However, in 2012, New Jersey decided to push the odds.
New Jersey was given the opportunity to pass a law legalizing sports betting in 1993, but it decided not to press the issue then. But in 2011, with the state facing a budget crisis, voters approved a referendum by an almost two-to-one margin requesting that New Jersey push to legalize sports betting. The state immediately responded to the referendum and introduced the Sports Wagering Act later that year.
— The Esports Observer (@esportsobserved) February 26, 2018
The Sports Wagering Act was quickly debated, passed by the state legislature, and signed into law by then-Governor Chris Christie in January 2012. However, shortly afterwards, the four major sports leagues and the NCAA combined their forces and sued Christie in order to stop New Jersey from implementing the Sports Wagering Act.
Later that year, a state court ruled in favor of the major sports leagues. The state appealed to the U.S. District Court and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals to no avail. The state appealed to the Supreme Court, but it declined to hear the case.
Undeterred, New Jersey passed a new Sports Wagering Act in 2014. Again, the major sports leagues sued, and they have been successful to this point. However, the Supreme Court decided it was going to hear the matter in June 2017, and it will deliver a ruling sometime before the end of summer this year.
With the decision in Murphy v NCAA (nee Christie v NCAA) coming down the tracks, here's a whole bunch of our coverage leading up to oral argument that includes at least one item, we think, you'll find interesting https://t.co/zLP3t7MyDl #SCOTUS #PASPA
— SportsHandle (@sports_handle) February 26, 2018
The state of New Jersey is arguing that the federal government is overstepping its boundaries. According to New Jersey and its horse-racing industry, the Constitution is being violated because the federal government is commandeering states into enforcing a federal law. The principle of commandeering will be the focus of New Jersey’s argument and will have widespread ramifications in other industries and areas as well.
In oral arguments, the Supreme Court justices seemed to agree more with New Jersey than the sports leagues. However, this is going to be a hotly contested topic and should be a close vote one way or the other. The ‘Yes’ is a slight favorite to win, with sports betting being legalized as a result, but we will see how it all plays out.
When will the Supreme Court deliver a ruling in Christie v. NCAA?
March 5 +100 April 2 +150
April 30 +300 May 14 +750
May 21 +1000 May 29 +2500
It’s not easy to determine when the Supreme Court will rule on a matter, but the odds here make it look like a decision will come sooner rather than later. The Supreme Court has until June to decide on this matter, but oddsmakers appear confident that a decision will come quickly, in plenty of time for states to get ready for football season.
Interested in the future of sports betting – listen to the SCOTUS oral argument in NCAA v Christie (and bet on the final tally 😉)https://t.co/84V1vaNecR
— Matthew Jerzyk (@mjerzyk) February 22, 2018
There is nothing on the Supreme Court calendar for when this will be decided. That’s because the highest court in the land will issue a bevy of orders on a number of cases at once, typically on a Monday. The Supreme Court can issue a ruling during any one of these scheduled days, and can even issue a decision on another day through an irregular order.
My money is that this is decided later. The odds are more favorable and the Supreme Court can spend some time on these matters. With these odds, its worth it to wait.
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