POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

NJ sports betting case to be heard by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court also delivered a surprise in the state’s long-running, losing battle over legalizing sports betting. Correspondent David Cruz is here with the details.

Cruz: Mary Alice, as always this is about money. This has been going on, this is a Christie administration initiative. At 2012 they got it on the ballot in New Jersey and is passed overwhelmingly, but since then three appellate courts have ruled against the state. And as you said, surprisingly the Supreme Court decided to take the case.

Williams: What’s being debated here? What’s at stake? I know federal law says no legal sports betting, it’s not legal. So what’s being debated?

Cruz: The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act originally, ironically introduced in 1992 by New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, and it’s in theory supposed to protect the integrity of the games, NHL, NFL, Major League Baseball, etc. They’re saying that if there are millions of dollars of gambling dollars involved that players play might be affected somewhat, so this is supposed to stop that. Ironically, the illegal gambling business in the country is probably, by some estimates, over $200 billion, untaxed and unregulated.

Williams: They’re still got the NCAA and virtually every major sports league against legalizing sports gambling. What are members of the New Jersey congressional delegation saying?

Cruz: So far, as has been the case since this whole thing started, both sides are pretty much for it. Everybody from Frank Pallone on the Democratic side to Leonard Lance on the Republican side praised the Supreme Court’s decision today. The governor himself was asked about it today and had this response:

Christie: I’m thrilled that we got certiorari in the Supreme Court, very few cases get granted certiorari by the Supreme Court, so I’m very optimistic. I’m looking forward to having conversations later today with Ted Olson who represents us in the Supreme Court. I feel pretty good, he’s got a 750 winning percentage in the Supreme Court, so I feel pretty good having Ted Olson represent us. Again, if the Supreme Court goes the other way, I don’t know what our options are, but we’ll have to make that evaluation at the time. But the fact that the Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case is a good sign for sports betting having a future in New Jersey. I’m encouraged by it. We’re not declaring victory, but at least we’re in the game.

Williams: So what’s next?

Cruz: We should say that part of what has raised the haggles of people in New Jersey who support this is that states Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana are allowed to have legalized gambling so they’re reaping all of the benefits of the tax dollars and the regulation that is supposedly keeping things clean. Arguments are expected in the fall and a decision is expected in early 2018. Maybe not in time for the Super Bowl as the governor had predicted when he talked about this, but they expect that in early in 2018 the Supreme Court will make some decision.

Williams: I’m guessing you’re not going to take a bet on this one.

Cruz: That’s right. It’s a push.