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Sports Bettors Await Decision from U.S. Supreme Court

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie United States Supreme Court Sports Bettors

The United States Supreme Court may reveal its decision any day in the case of Christie v. NCAA.

Its effects will be wide-ranging and almost immediate, as a win for Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey will allow all 50 states to legalize and regulate sports betting.

It started in 2012 when the New Jersey legislature passed a law – the Sports Wagering Act – to legalize sports betting at casinos and racetracks. Christie signed it, and the NCAA immediately attacked the move in court, filing suit in the U.S. District Court with the support of other major American sports leagues.

They alleged that the New Jersey law violated the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992, which prohibited sports betting in 46 states.

Through the years, Christie found little support but kept appealing until the U.S. Supreme Court agreed in June 2017 to hear the case. A total of 18 states and three governors filed a joint brief on behalf of New Jersey, as did numerous organizations supporting states’ rights.

Oral arguments were presented to the nine judges on December 4, 2017. Many in the courtroom felt that there was momentum for New Jersey, but questions from the judges are not always indicative of their final decisions.

Commerce Clause, states’ rights at issue

The main issues at stake are the Commerce Clause and states’ rights.

According to the Associated Press, the core question is: “Does a federal statute that prohibits modification or repeal of state-law prohibitions on private conduct impermissibly usurp the regulatory power of the states?”

And Ballotpedia phrased it as: “Does PASPA violate the Constitution’s anti-commandeering doctrine, which says ‘Congress lacks the power directly to compel states to require or prohibit acts which Congress itself may require or prohibit,’ when PASPA requires states to enforce federal regulations on gambling in the state?”

It is complicated. But the ruling will likely provide a straightforward bottom line as to whether New Jersey and other states may offer sports betting.

The ruling could be announced any day. According to U.S. Supreme Court watchers, the court typically issues decisions on Mondays at 10 a.m. ET during the months of March and April.

ESPN puts the odds on New Jersey at -250.