New Jersey Sports Betting Still on the Table: Takeaways From Yesterday's Hearing

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SCOTUS Deliberating NJ Sports Betting
Way back in 2011 the good citizens of New Jersey voted overwhelmingly to legalize sports betting at the state's racetracks and casinos. The decision would allow a more level playing field for Atlantic City to compete with their contemporaries in Las Vegas, as Nevada has been a bastion of sports betting for years while New Jersey could only offer traditional casino games and slots. Sportsbooks often attract bettors to the casinos which is where the house has a substantial edge. But without sportsbooks, Atlantic City is a decided underdog to Las Vegas in terms of a vacation destination for many who want to legally bet a game in addition to pulling a slot lever.

However, that pathway to sports betting legalization, which was officially passed as a state law in 2012, was obstructed by a lawsuit spearheaded by the NFL in conjunction with other sports organizations that has prevented sports betting from taking root. The courts have sided with the NFL and voted that PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992) does not illegally usurp a state's right to self-determination and thus PASPA prevailed and New Jersey sports betting did not. However, the state legislators decided to repeal all New Jersey gambling laws and avoid another showdown in constitutional law with the federal government. This would clear the way for private, and not state, entities to run sports betting parlors in order to skin this cat another way.

Fast forward to January of 2017 and this case has escalated to the highest court in the land. The Supreme Court of the United States has invited the Solicitor General in order to obtain a briefing from the federal point of view. The newly installed Solicitor General under the Trump administration may be much friendlier to sports betting, in general, considering that Donald Trump owned several casinos in New Jersey and is acutely aware of the disadvantages that the Garden State's casinos face.

There is no deadline for the Solicitor General to appear but many believe this issue will be continued in May of this year to hear what the federal government, under President Trump, has to say about sports betting in New Jersey, and in the other 46 states that are prohibited from offering it. If New Jersey has found a new friend in the federal government it could be a landmark decision that could lead to the legalization of sports gambling in the United States.

Here are some takeaways from yesterday's hearings:

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