The future of sports betting may be determined by an upcoming Supreme Court case, but there are many implications for states depending on how the high court rules.
Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association involves New Jersey's attempt to legalize sports betting under Governor Chris Christie (R-New Jersey). For over half a century, most states have had laws on the books barring sports betting – but some states have started to view it as a potential way to create jobs and generate revenue by opening up casinos and allowing for sports betting to be legal.
"There is a federal law, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, that effectively bars states from repealing their existing laws against sports betting," says Elizabeth Slattery, legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation. (Read her related article)
"That might seem a little confusing, but basically the federal government understands that under the 10th Amendment, they can't force states to enact a law banning sports betting, but what they are saying they can do is require states to keep those existing laws on the books."
New Jersey argues this is effectively a form of commandeering the states into the service of the federal government and that it violates the Garden State's sovereignty to pass laws regulating the private conduct of their citizens.
"If this type of arrangement is upheld by the Supreme Court, it could have implications for whether states decide to keep on the books concealed carry laws for handguns or it could have implications for states' decisions to allow the recreational use of marijuana," Slattery believes.
"Obviously there are high stakes in the case because it deals with sports betting and we have the NCAA on one side, and New Jersey on the other, so I think it's going to be an interesting one to watch and maybe some interesting language on this sort of anti-commandeering doctrine."
Arguments are scheduled for Monday, December 4.