New Jersey Gets Help From Friends In Support Of Sports Betting Case

J.R. Duren Updated on November 29, 2016
NJ sports betting brief
The American Gaming Association recently filed a brief in support of the New Jersey sports betting case being appealed to the US Supreme Court.

The AGA = for sports betting

The lobbying group for the US casino industry voiced its support of the state’s attempt to offer legal Las Vegas-style sports betting in Atlantic City and at NJ racetracks via the brief. It’s one of several briefs entered in favor of New Jersey’s side (more here and here.)

An amicus brief is a statement filed with an appellate court that expresses the opinions of a person or group not directly involved in the case. The term’s full name is “amicus curiae,” which is Latin for “friend of the court.”

Think of it like a New York Jets executive appearing on a sports talk radio show to field questions from callers. A Jets fan calls into the sports show — a friend of the team, so to speak — to express his opinion about a rumored Jets trade. He’s not a member of the organization and wasn’t involved in the trade, but he feels his opinion is important.

The big difference, of course, is that an amicus brief is a legal document.

NJ sports betting briefThe AGA would like to see its members be able to offer sports betting across the country — not just at properties in Nevada.

The Supreme Court will eventually decide whether to hear the latest appeal by New Jersey, which to date has failed to win a verdict in any court.

People are already betting … illegally

Significant portions of the AGA brief made an appearance on NorthJersey.com this week, revealing the organization’s pro-sports betting stance.

The AGA focused on a federal law: PASPA, or the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. That is the law that prevents most forms of sports betting in states that did not already have sports betting when it was enacted in 1992.

The AGA’s argument is that the PASPA has failed in its main goal: curbing illegal gambling. Here’s an excerpt:

“The AGA is particularly concerned with the prevalence of illegal sports gambling in the United States, much of which takes place undeterred by the failed Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act … The AGA — like the majority of sports fans and many leaders in law enforcement — believes it is time to re-examine the nation’s outdated sports-betting laws.”

Other arguments the AGA used are:

  • Nearly two-thirds of the state’s voters want sports betting, but PASPA blocks the majority’s wishes.
  • New Jersey lawmakers are forced to maintain laws that reflect PASPA, which is nearly 25-year-old and outdated.
  • New evidence suggests that the national public is in favor of sports gambling.
  • New evidence suggests legalizing gambling is more effective than prohibition in combating the nearly $150 billion illegal sports-betting industry.

Convincing argument from the AGA, but is it realistic?

While the AGA makes some great points, is there a disconnect between the argument and the reality that federal courts aren’t willing to repeal PASPA?

For example, last August an appeal made to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals to legalize sports betting in New Jersey met a decisive demise in the form of a 9-3 opinion against the state.

No matter how many briefs are filed on New Jersey’s side, a SCOTUS review seems unlikely. That may mean New Jersey has to go back to the drawing board if it wants to legalize sports betting.

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