Sports betting advocates believe they are holding a winning ticket in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. This week, the high court heard oral arguments in Christie v. NCAA. The case involves New Jersey's efforts to repeal prohibitions on sports betting. The federal government and several major sports leagues and associations are challenging the Garden State, under a 1992 law known as PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) which prohibits states from legalizing and regulating sports betting.
Following a spirited day of back-and-forth before the justices, Geoff Freeman, CEO of the American Gaming Association, was encouraged. "We think we see a focus (from the justices) on limiting the federal government's intrusion in this space, and I think it's a positive day for the millions of Americans who are looking to wager on sports," he tells KTRH. Specifically, Freeman believes the Supreme Court should strike down the PASPA law altogether. "States should have the ability to choose for themselves whether or not they regulate sports betting," he says.
Beyond the states' rights argument, Freeman argues that removing restrictions on sports gambling would dry up the massive illegal betting market taking place offshore and online. "We know that millions of Americans are spending north of $150 billion a year illegally betting on sports," he says. "The real choice here is do we want to shut down the illegal market and protect consumers, or do we want to allow this illegal market to continue to thrive and put our heads in the sand."
The push to legalize sports betting beyond Nevada is gaining momentum across the country, and a positive ruling from the Supreme Court in this case would only bolster that effort. "Whether it's Texas or any other state in this country, I think it's only a matter of time before we see legal, regulated sports betting all across the United States," says Freeman.