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Case to Legalize Sports Gambling Heading to Supreme Court

Capitol_building_California-300x145The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that could change the future of sports betting. The court recently decided to hear arguments regarding the legalization of sports gambling.

It all stems from a New Jersey ballot measure regarding sports betting that was approved by voters. As a result, the state began setting up sports books, but the MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL and NCAA sued New Jersey under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), a federal law that prohibits sports gambling outside of Nevada, Oregon, Montana and Delaware.

What Happens Next?

Supreme Court cases operate on a very rigid schedule. The Court has already decreed that New Jersey must submit its brief by Aug. 10. The leagues must then submit their response to that brief by Sept. 14. New Jersey will then be allowed until Oct. 14 to file a reply to the leagues’ brief.

Oral arguments are likely to be scheduled for the end of 2017 or early 2018. The oral arguments will afford each side a short amount of time to make its case and answer the questions of the nine Supreme Court justices. After the arguments are heard, the Court will review all the materials and draft its decision, which will likely be announced sometime before the Supreme Court’s term concludes in June 2018

The Turning Tide?

Despite the existence of PASPA, sports wagering is a multi-billion dollar industry in this country, supported by offshore betting sites, fantasy leagues (which are considered games of skill instead of chance), and thousands of smaller sportsbooks operating illegally.

There are several signs that the country is moving toward legalized sports gambling. First, the shift toward legalization is gaining support from major power players in sports. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has frequently proclaimed his support for federally regulated sports gambling. In November 2014, he wrote a guest column for The New York Times in which he wrote, “Congress should adopt a federal framework that allows states to authorize betting on professional sports, subject to strict regulatory requirements and technological safeguards.”

Another signal that major sports leagues are changing their tone in favor of legalizing gambling is how they are embracing the city of Las Vegas. The city’s expansion NHL team will begin playing in 2017, while the Oakland Raiders plan to bring the NFL to Las Vegas as early as 2019.

On the federal level, Congress is already considering changes to PAPSA. Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) introduced a bill known as the Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act (GAME) to repeal PASPA and replace it with a regulatory scheme that would allow states to legalize online betting. In response to the Supreme Court’s decision to hear his state’s case, Pallone said, “Rather than continue to allow criminal and offshore entities to reap the benefit of illegal gaming, there is now an opportunity for the Supreme Court to allow the democratic process in New Jersey to appropriately regulate sports gaming.”

Do You Think Sports Gambling Should Be Legal?

Major sports leagues seem to be accepting gambling more than ever. The NHL and NFL will soon both have teams in Las Vegas and betting sites like Draft Kings are being embraced by the NBA. With this shift in attitude toward sports gambling, do you think it’s time to legalize this practice?

Please share your thoughts on this subject in the comments section below.

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