There’s a lot going on in the world of sports betting. One is the opinion expressed by new NBA commissioner Adam Silver. In a recent conversation with reporters, Silver said he feels it should be legal to bet on sports everywhere in the United States. He went on to say that he sees the legalization of sports betting in the U.S. taking place within the next three to five years. This is a significant change in the position of the commissioner of one of the most popular sports leagues in the United States. The NBA has long tried to distance itself from sports betting.
Silver expressed his opinion in an op-ed he wrote in the New York Times a few weeks ago. He said the federal government should let each state decide if it wants to allow its residents to bet on pro sports. Silver added that there should be technological safeguards and strict regulatory requirements. Commissioner Silver isn’t the only one in the NBA in favor of legalizing betting on sports. Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, said he strongly agrees with the commissioner. Cuban said to do anything less would be hypocritical. He sais he felt Americans were being hypocrites in their stance against nationwide gambling on pro sports.
He said people pay close attention to point spreads and the NBA and NFL give away tickets to Las Vegas where people gamble on sports, yet they say they’re against sports betting. Cuban said Commissioner Silver’s call for federal regulation is right on point and it’s only a matter of when sports betting will be legalized, not if it will. He said he wants to see how the NFL will react when nationwide legal sports betting is a reality. Mark Cuban said he envisions a time when pro sports will partner with casinos and share information with them.
Both NBA Commissioner Silver and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban point to the way sports betting is handled in the United Kingdom as a model the American government could adopt. Cuban said the U.S. is the only country where sports betting is not legal and that is ‘upsetting’ and ‘un-American’.
Another important sports betting story is the situation in New Jersey. U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp has issued a permanent injunction barring sorts betting at casinos and racetracks in the Garden State. The judge ruled in favor of the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, and the NCAA saying New Jersey’s 2014 Sports Wagering Law which sought to allow sports betting in the state is in violation of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. The 2014 Sports Wagering Law was New Jersey’s latest effort to expand gambling in the state to increase tax revenue.
Monmouth Park, a New Jersey thoroughbred racing venue, was about to open its sports book because the temporary restraining order preventing it from offering sports betting was hours away from expiring. Instead, after allowing both sides in the dispute to present oral arguments in district court in Trenton, New Jersey, Judge Shipp decided to uphold the ban. This decision is a major setback for New Jersey. The state was hoping sports betting would be able to replace the tax revenue lost when several major casinos shuttered their doors earlier this year.
New Jersey has been in a legal battle with MLB, NBA, NHL, NFI, and the NCAA for the right to allow betting on their games for more than two years. This is the latest setback for the state as it works to rebuild its flagging horse racing and casino industries. The position of the sports leagues is that the integrity of their games is at stake. They feel fan perception of the games will be damaged if New Jersey and other states allow people to bet on them legally. According to New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak, the state will appeal the decision within the next few days.
Steve Sweeney, president of the New Jersey state senate said they believe it’s New Jersey’s right to decide if they want to allow sports betting and they will continue to fight in court using every legal option they have to exercise that right. He said sports betting’s economic impact on New Jersey is too important to give up the fight. The battle now moves to the Third Circuit of Appeals where New Jersey lawmakers feel they have a better chance to win. In 2013 that court also ruled against New Jersey’s right to allow sports wagering in a 2-1 majority decision.
Attorneys for New Jersey had argued that the state was being unconstitutionally commandeered by the federal government’s ban on sports betting. What has given the state hope is judges on the Third circuit Court have stated states have the right to repeal sports betting laws. When New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed the 2014 Sports Wagering Law in October, it partially repealed the sports wagering prohibition. However, it restricted sports wagering to racetracks and casinos where it’s handled by private entities.
The 2014 Sports Wagering Law does not allow people to place wagers on college games which are played in New Jersey or involves teams from universities in New Jersey. There’s also an age requirement included in the law. Lawyers for the sports leagues said New Jersey’s sports betting law amounts to state-sponsored sports wagering and therefore violates the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. According to the PASPA of 1992 Oregon, Nevada, Montana, and Delaware are the only states permitted to sponsor sports betting.
Judge Shipp ruled PASPA only allows states to completely repeal prohibitions against sports betting. Many well-respected legal minds believe the case will ultimately be decided by the Third Circuit Appeals Court’s interpretation of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. More specifically it hinges on their explanation and interpretation of the statement the judges made in 2013.
Gaming and sports law attorney Daniel Wallach was in court for the oral arguments. He hit the nail on the head when he said the case will be decided by what the judges of the Third Circuit Appeals Court meant when they said the state has the right to create ‘the exact contours of the prohibition’. New Jersey lawmakers had pinned their hopes on being able to do just that. The state’s recent defeat in U.S. District Court calls that into question.
Does PASPA infringe on states rights or protect the integrity of the games played by college and professional athletes? The Third Circuit Appeals Court will decide. Their decision could dramatically change sports betting in the U.S.