Trump Administration Sides With NFL in New Jersey Sports Gambling Case
The Trump administration announced Wednesday that it is supporting professional sports leagues in their collective opposition to allowing the state of New Jersey to offer legalized sports gambling. Meanwhile, Republican Governor Chris Christie is calling the leagues “hypocrites” for opposing sports betting while also allowing teams to play in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Earlier this week, the solicitor general’s office filed a brief with the United States Supreme Court offering support of the leagues ahead of opening arguments, which are set to take place on December 4.
Christie’s administration is challenging a 1992 federal law that bans sports gambling in 46 states. Christie believes the legalization and regulation of sports betting in the state would bring increased revenue, while also serving as a means of boosting New Jersey’s casino and racetrack industries, which have been floundering in recent years.
Christie made an appearance on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” earlier in the week. During the interview, he said that professional sports leagues “no longer have moral ground” in light of the NHL’s recent decision to put an expansion franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights, in the gambling mecca of Las Vegas. The NFL’s Oakland Raiders are also set to move to Sin City in 2019.
Christie went on to say, “They say because we have the Giants and the Jets and the Devils that somehow we shouldn’t be allowed to have gambling here because it will somehow threaten the integrity of the game. Well, you kidding? How isn’t it threatening the integrity of the game in Las Vegas for the NHL and the NFL?”
Arguments From Both Sides
Officials from New Jersey argue that the law against sports betting being legalized in all but four states (Nevada, Delaware, Montana, Oregon) should be struck down because the law unconstitutionally forces the states to enforce a regulation that Congress wants. While Congress can’t require states to enact specific laws, it can undermine certain laws that “conflict with federal policy.”
Earlier in October, the collective sports leagues issued a response to New Jersey’s argument. The leagues believe that the current ban on sports betting falls within the bounds of the federal government’s supremacy over state laws:
Throughout this litigation, respondents and the government have argued that the 2014 Act impermissibly “license[s]” sports gambling by allowing it only at state-licensed facilities. Gov’t Cert. Amicus Br. 17; Gov’t C.A. Br. 10-13. The Act plainly does so: it repeals New Jersey’s general prohibitions on sports gambling only “to the extent they apply” at casinos and racetracks. 2014 Act § 1.
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