What Happens in Vegas May Not Stay in Vegas

Do you make the safe bet? Take the risk on the underdog? Or, do you live in a state that doesn’t allow sports betting? Likely you fit into the latter category. But all this could change with the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision about a federal statute governing sports betting: Christie v. NCAA.

It’s no secret that Nevada practically has a monopoly on sports betting. It’s the only place where it’s legal. That, however, has not prevented a thriving black market that is worth between $150 billion and $400 billion a year. Revenue-strapped states, like New Jersey, which has a growing budget deficit, are looking for new sources of money. A well-regulated, taxed sports betting industry has the potential to be a boon for economies everywhere.

So, with billions of dollars in potential revenue out there, what’s stopping the states from grabbing their share? A 1992 law called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Basically, this law banned sports betting by prohibiting states from authorizing any “wagering scheme” based on the outcome of a professional or amateur sport. Grandfathered in, Las Vegas secured their position as the gambling capital of the world.

Fast-forward to today; Governor Christie claims that PASPA violates the 10th amendment because of a precedent set by New York v. United States which holds that the federal government cannot require the states “to govern according to Congress’ instructions.” However, the NCAA and the leagues argue that prohibiting an action is not the same compelling one. Therefore, they reason, PASPA is perfectly legal. Federalism, the power the federal government has over state governments, is a hot topic and this case has the potential to be a landmark for future law.  

What do you think? Is the federal government overstepping with PAPSA? Should sports betting be legalized anyway?  And if so, how should fans be protected from rigged games and unfair house rules?

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