Ryan Mayer

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of the state of New Jersey, 7-2, on Monday finding that the federal ban on sports gambling (PASPA) is unconstitutional. The ruling gives the states the right to allow betting on sports. From the ruling:

“The PASPA provision at issue here—prohibiting state authorization of sports gambling—violates the anticommandeering rule. That provision unequivocally dictates what a state legislature may and may not do. And this is true under either our interpretation or that advocated by respondents and the United States. In either event, state legislatures are put under the direct control of Congress. It is as if federal officers were installed in state legislative chambers and were armed with the authority to stop legislators from voting on any offending proposals. A more direct affront to state sovereignty is not easy to imagine.”

The battle over the federal sports gambling ban began back in 2012 when the NCAA and the four major professional sports leagues sued the state of New Jersey after then-governor Chris Christie signed legislation allowing sports betting in the state. The basis for the lawsuit by the leagues was the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act which made it illegal to “sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize by law” sports wagering.

Some states were grandfathered in at the time that law was passed but Nevada was the only state which was given the right to allow all forms of sports wagering. As this particular case made its way through the United States court system, the courts ruled in favor of the leagues all the way up until it reached the Supreme Court. SCOTUS heard the oral arguments in the case in December of last year before handing down this decision today.

According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, New Jersey could begin taking bets on sports within the next few weeks because the state has been preparing for this kind of ruling for awhile. Several more states could follow.

Governor Christie weighed in on the decision saying that the ruling is a “great day for the rights of states and their people to make their own decisions”.