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US Supreme Court to Decide Legality of Sports Betting


Although the case of Christie v. NCAA currently before the Supreme Court may lift the federal restriction on sports betting, even those of us in the sports betting business are having a hard time getting behind the case.  Led by the state of New Jersey and former Governor Chris Christie, the case before the Supreme Court does nothing to address the heart of the issue: the constitutionality of forbidding law-abiding adults from gambling.

It is infinitely worse to suppress gambling than to tolerate it. To allow the government to control decisions such as betting on sports is to destroy the spirit of the freedom on which our country is based. We are shocked to learn that in some countries possessing alcohol is grounds for death, or that women are forbidden to wear pants or drive a car. Is imprisoning law abiding adults for gambling in America any less backward? I argue it is moreso because it is America.

No doubt the majority of people around the world are mystified by our approach to gambling laws, including Americans. The government cannot cite a single legitimate scientific study to support a claim that gambling is a risk to the public welfare. The shrinking number of religious leaders in opposition to gambling cannot cite a single Biblical reference to gambling.

In 2012, New Jersey unsuccessfully argued the federal ban on sports betting, known as the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), violated the constitutional rights of citizens under the 14th Amendment. The Third Circuit disagreed with New Jersey’s position, and the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal. New Jersey brings the issue again claiming a states’ rights violation under the 10th Amendment. The Third Circuit again diverged and this time the Supreme Court is taking the issue on.

PASPA is a violation of the 14th Amendment’s Due Process clause which protects fundamental freedoms. It is also discriminatory for people in Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana (states which are explicitly excluded from PASPA) to be legally permitted to bet on sports, while those in other locations cannot.

As for this being a 10th Amendment issue, even I admit it is quite a stretch. That is for the Court to decide, but it is a shame we are not handling this correctly. If the enemy of your enemy is your friend, I guess we end up on the side of Chris Christie. If the end result will make life easier for people in the sports betting business, I’m for it, although I’m not all for it.

--JV Miller