Supreme Court Strikes Down Federal Sports Gambling Law

Annette Crawford
May 16, 2018

Following a ruling on Monday from the U.S. Supreme Court, which struck down a federal ban that had prevented most states from setting up sports betting operations, New Jersey will now be able to make its own rules on sports gambling. The law also gave New Jersey a year to legalize sports gambling in Atlantic City.

On Monday, the Supreme Court opened the door for states across the country to authorize sports gambling within their borders-a decision that could have a dramatic effect in the world of sports and potentially weaken the federal government's authority over states on a number of fronts. According to Oxford Economics, however, the payoff from legalized sports betting is expected to be significantly more at around $173 million in tax revenue, as well as creating a further 3,633 jobs in state.

In London, shares in William Hill (WMH.L), which operates legal sports betting in Nevada and is preparing to start operating in New Jersey, rose 10.7 percent.

The NFL, the nation's most popular spectator sport, will have to reckon with its longstanding opposition to gambling, which many critics say is hypocritical because the league encourages fantasy sports, publishes detailed injury reports that help bookies set odds and schedules several games every season in London, where in-stadium betting is legal.

That law required the casinos to get approval from the state Gaming Commission before accepting bets on athletic events.

Undeterred, New Jersey passed a new law, this time not authorizing gambling but just repealing the state law provisions that would have prohibited it. Sleight says it's traditionally hard to guess what the Indian nations might do under their gaming compacts, or when. The "commandeering" part of the doctrine was the idea that Congress can't "command" state officials to administer and enforce federal laws. After all, federalist-leaning Republicans in Congress might be much more inclined to go along with the Democrat-sponsored bill, given that, as presently written, it seems to deftly walk the fine line between federal oversight and state-level autonomy.

While it will take some time for the state Legislature to iron out the details, the time to begin is now.


First of all, the Legislature would have to act quickly.

"A great day for the rights of states and their people to make their own decisions". Alito acknowledged this authority, but said that Congress's power to pre-empt state law only relates to laws in which Congress regulates citizens directly, not to laws regulating the states. Some only have games like bingo or pull tabs that don't need authorization from states.

The real-world outcome of this holding is that all the states are now free not only to authorize sports gambling but also to have their own sports betting lotteries. But it seems probable that states that already have other lotteries might now expand to sports-related lotteries. On the other side, dissenting Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor argued that the decision was too broad.

"I am deeply concerned about the social ills that can arise from gambling". There are also serious doubts that Congress wants to get involved.

Overall, the decision may be read as a marker of the future direction of states' rights jurisprudence on what may well become a more conservative court. The Supreme Court agrees with us today.

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA), which has long fought for the rights of poker players in the United States, recently noted that as many as 68% of its members were involved in sports betting, leading to the organization diverting some of its attention towards the industry.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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