Supreme Court Rules for Federalism in Sports Betting Case

The Daily Signal | 5/14/2018 | Staff (Posted by) Level 4
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Elizabeth Slattery writes about the proper role of the courts, judicial nominations, and the Constitution as a legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation. Read her research. She co-hosts SCOTUS101, a podcast about everything that’s happening at the Supreme Court.

On Monday, the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that prevented states from legalizing sports betting in Murphy v. NCAA. The ruling struck a blow against federal overreach and restored to states the power to set their own policies related to gambling.

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The Court ruled 7-2, with Justice Stephen Breyer joining all but one part of the majority opinion. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor and, in part, Justice Stephen Breyer.

For the past half-century, most states have barred sports betting, and in 1992, Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which makes it unlawful for states to “sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize by law … a lottery, sweepstakes, or other betting, gambling, or wagering scheme based” on competitive sports.

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In short, the law prevented states from passing new laws or repealing old ones, with the goal of keeping sports betting illegal in most states. The law grandfathered in four states (including Nevada) and also gave the state of New Jersey a one-year window to legalize sports betting.

New Jersey waited until 2011, when the voters passed a constitutional amendment authorizing the state legislature to legalize sports betting in Atlantic City. When the legislature passed such a law in 2012, the NCAA and professional sports leagues immediately challenged it, and a federal district court halted its implementation under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.

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Then in 2014, the state tried another tactic. The legislature passed a law repealing an earlier law that barred sports betting. Under the new law, betting would be allowed in Atlantic City for...
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