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Gaming Attorney: Federal Government Shouldn’t be Deciders for Sports Betting

Written by:
Guest
Published on:
Oct/23/2017

The US Supreme Court is set to decide on a case brought forth by the state of New Jersey to decide whether sports betting should be legalized. 

Until a few decades ago, no one would have thought the decision-maker was the federal government.  In fact, for the first 150 years of American history, Congress had almost no role in matters that affected people’s daily lives.  It was entirely up to the states to decide not only whether gambling should be a crime, but whether anything should be a crime, writes noted gambling attorney I. Nelson Rose in his blog.

He added:

Since the birth of television, it has become difficult to appreciate that the federal government is a government of limited power.  If it is not in the U.S. Constitution, Congress, federal courts, administrative agencies and even the President simply do not have the right to tell people what they can and cannot do in their private lives.  It was, and remains, except to the extent they have voluntarily given up some of their power, state governments that have unlimited power.

In agreeing to hear New Jersey’s appeal of its right to have sports-betting, the U.S.  Supreme has signaled that it might begin telling Congress that it has gone too far in stepping on states’ rights.

Rose compares the situation involving sports betting with that of the legalization of marijuana on a state-by-state basis.

Today, 44 states have medical cannabis laws.  Yet federal law treats marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning the Food and Drug Administration has determined it has no medical use.

Rose added:

Conflicts between the federal government and the states are not always about differing views on morality.  Sometimes the conflict arises due to the problem of having to get both a state legislature and Congress to change their laws, at the same time.

In the years immediately following passage of the Professional and Amateur Protection Act (“PASPA”), an argument could be made that New Jersey agreed with the federal prohibition on sports-betting.  PASPA gave New Jersey, and New Jersey only, one year to pass a law allowing sports-betting.  Even though the issue was not put before the state’s voters at that time, there were lawsuits and lobbying.  When the New Jersey Legislature failed to pass a statute or referendum, there was no general uprising of discontent.

But the same cannot be said now of New Jersey and its voters.  The amendment to the State Constitution authorizing sports-betting was approved at the polls overwhelmingly.  There was similarly little dissent in the New Jersey Legislature when it passed, twice, enabling acts.

- Gilbert Horowitz, Gambling911.com

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