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U.S. Supreme Court Overturns Federal Ban on Sports Gambling

By Scooby Axson

The United States Supreme Court agreed on Monday to allow New Jersey's bid for sports betting at its casinos and racetracks, effectively ending prohibition on a $100 billion industry and striking down restrictions on wagering outside of Nevada.

"The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make," the Supreme Court announced. "Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own."

The ruling could allow as many as 25 other states to seek similar allowances.

The case, Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, dealt with if the government had the right to "impermissibly commandeer the regulatory power of States."

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected New Jersey law in 2016, ruling that the statute violated the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) which forbids state-authorized sports gambling.

The move in trying to get New Jersey into legalized sports betting started years ago by former governor Chris Christie and other lawmakers, with the state passing a non-binding referendum allowing sports betting in 2011.

Each of the North American major pro sports leagues and the NCAA filed a lawsuit against the state the following year after Christie signed a sports betting law, suing in 2012 and again in 2014.

The sports leagues players' unions have said they want to be involved in some facet amid concern about fixing games and point shaving.

"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 a joint statement in January.

Congress did give New Jersey a chance to become the fifth state to allow gambling before the ban was enacted, but the state failed to pass a sports betting law in the time allotted.

Currently, Nevada is the only state to allow single-game wagering. Nevada, along with Louisiana are the only two states that legally have casino-style gambling.

PASPA prohibits 46 states from authorizing sports betting.

Nevada and three other states, Delaware, Oregon and Montana are exempt from PASPA, having been grandfathered in because they already adopted betting practices.

The full decision from the Supreme Court can be read here.


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McDowell Jewett