The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from New Jersey that would legalize sports betting at casinos and racetracks in the Garden State. Depending on the outcome, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act – a 1992 federal ban on sports betting – could become a thing of the past.
If you’re a betting person, bet on New Jersey winning its appeal.
“The reason why New Jersey is the prohibitive favorite is a matter of statistical survey, and going back and looking at how the court treats cases, you would be surprised at the reversal rate in decisions coming from the U.S. Court of Appeals,” sports and gaming attorney Daniel Wallach said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “The last term, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Court of Appeals decisions at a rate of 83 percent, and most of those cases involved resolving disputes among the lower circuit courts – (whereas) here we have a case where there’s no circuit split, and it comes from a single court of appeal without any conflicting decision from another circuit. (Thus), there’s a higher likelihood that the court is taking the case with an inclination towards reversing it. So if you’re going to put your money anywhere, if you could bet on the outcome, I would say that New Jersey is the prohibitive favorite.”
Another factor working in New Jersey’s favor? Politics.
“The composition of the Supreme Court would play out very well in favor of a reversal,” Wallach said. “The conservative wing of the court is now four justices, plus (Anthony) Kennedy, and of course Neil Gorsuch, who just arrived on the court, is a conservative darling. The issues in the case involving federalism and states’ rights, those are generally issue that conservative legal jurists and conservative legal scholars are very sensitive to, and they would play out very well in favor of a state prevailing.”
Many sports leagues have tried to distance themselves from gambling over the years but are finally starting to come around. Case in point: The NHL and NFL will soon have franchises in Las Vegas.
“They’re using an antiquated argument that the association with casinos and gaming will undermine not just the integrity of the game, but cause a negative perception in the fans and their consumers’ minds about the legitimacy of the games,” Wallach said. “That’s an argument that’s sort of a red herring from 20 years ago and the Pete Rose-scandal era. It no longer applies. The leagues are all-in on gambling.”