The long-awaited verdict in the New Jersey Supreme Court sports betting case has arrived. PASPA was ruled unconstitutional and has been repealed. The 46 states affected by PASPA are not in the clear to pass legislation that would usher in legal sports betting.
A 6-3 vote majority vote saw PASPA be repealed. The majority opinion pointed out that sports betting legalization is a significant policy change, however it is not the federal governments to make on a state-by-state level. SCOTUS deemed that PASPA is not consistent with the benchmarks established by the US Constitution. New Jersey fought on the grounds that PASPA violated the Tenth Amendment and the Supreme Court agreed.
It is possible that Congress steps in to impose federal regulations. SCOTUS made it clear to point out that that is an option on the table. However, they also stated that if Congress chooses not to do so, states are free to establish their own sports betting terms. Multiple states have already done so. West Virginia, Mississippi and obviously New Jersey already have legislation in place that was hinging on PASPA’s repeal. Now that the federal ban has been lifted, their sports betting legislation is activated and they can begin developing their new legal markets. New Jersey is reported to be able to begin hosting sports wagering within a matter of weeks.
The major sports leagues were against New Jersey nearly every step of the way. The NBA and MLB began sniffing around states pushing out legislation prior to SCOTUS’ ruling. It appeared they were of the mindset that New Jersey would win and It would be better to get their hands in early. After the ruling, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver stated that he would prefer a federal regulatory framework but they will continue to lobby in states until that happens. The leagues keep trying to push this agenda that integrity is their main goal. They believe legal sports gambling will hurt the integrity of their leagues. Realistically, they just want a piece of the revenue that these new betting markets will bring. Whether or not anything happens on a federal level remains to be seen, but you can bet on these leagues forcing their way into states’ bills for the time being.
This case has been ongoing and we’ve covered it extensively. There were a lot of moving pieces, shifting viewpoints and bases to cover. This decision is a significant achievement for those who have been lobbying for sports betting since the beginning. PASPA has been in effect for over 25 years, limiting 46 states from catching up to Nevada in terms of offering legal single-game wagering options. Now, these states can finally enter the market and the US sports betting industry can grow. SCOTUS helped the US achieve a major milestone in the form of gambling expansion. Hopefully the US continues to grow from here in that regard.