On Tuesday the American Gaming Association filed an amicus brief in New Jersey’s sports betting case slated for the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) during the high court’s October term. The brief follows the filing of New Jersey’s brief on the merits as well as that of fellow petitioner, the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Inc. Their opponent, of course, is the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the major professional U.S. sports leagues.
The American Gaming Association Pushes Hard on Federalism and the Anti-Commandeering Doctrine
In its November 2016 amicus brief urging the court to hear the case, the national pro-gaming trade group focused on issues of public policy, such as shifting attitudes in favor of legalized sports wagering and on the illegal black market fostered by the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.
This brief is a noticeable departure that heavily underscores the main points in petitioners’ briefs, which emphasize how PASPA tramples on states’ rights, undermines state sovereignty, and more specifically mandates state action — in violation of the anti-commandeering doctrine (the federal government can’t force states to pass or maintain laws furthering a federal government law). And that is unconstitutional, they argue. The AGA makes many of the same points regarding anti-commandeering (also discussed here in our conversation with law professor and sports law expert Marc Edelman) and on federalism in general.
The AGA also discusses the potential benefits (another issue that SportsHandle has explored) of legal, regulated sports betting: “On the government side, there are ample benefits to proper regulation of sports-betting. For starters, people will generally choose a legal, regulated market over the black market that PASPA has fostered,” the attorneys state in the brief.
They write that legal sports books would eliminate a black market, citing as examples Nevada, the United Kingdom and Australia, adding:
The influx of known market participants, moreover, helps government and law enforcement to police crime better. Legal gaming operators can act as “early warning system[s]” of “irregularities,” and aggregate data from sports books alerts regulators to potential corruption.
Finally, properly regulated sports betting allows governments to generate substantial revenues to benefit their constituents. A legal sports-betting industry could generate up to $26.6 billion in total economic impact every year though GDP increases, taxes 18 dollars, and over 150,000 well-paying American jobs.
But it is obvious from the AGA brief that New Jersey and its backers view the anti-commandeering doctrine as the biggest, best shot at success. The leagues’ brief on the merits is due on October 17.