Is the NJ Sports Betting Case the Gateway to Federal iGambling Legislation?

by Jim Hall

iGambling LegislationAs SCOTUS prepares to hear the New Jersey sports betting case, will a positive outcome result in the legalization of online gaming on a federal level?

Currently, in the United States, each individual state has the ability to legalize online gaming. Only four have done so, with Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey passing legislation in 2013 and Pennsylvania approving iGaming just a few weeks ago. While states can make the decision for online gaming themselves, there is no federal legislation in place on the matter. The United States Supreme Court is preparing to hear a case involving sports betting and New Jersey next week, which has many questioning as to if a positive outcome could result in federal online gaming legislation.

Christie Vs. NCAA

The case, Christie Vs. NCAA, will be heard starting on the 4th and if the outcome will be in New Jersey’s favor, then it could have ramifications for the online gaming industry in the US as well. Oral arguments will start on Monday in the case with New Jersey set to offer sports betting if the Supreme Court decides to rule the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act invalid. If the state wins the case, they will most likely start offering sports betting next year.

According to the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement Director David Rebuck, the sports betting case will reach further than sports wagering and into the online gaming industry as a whole. When speaking to the Associated Press, Rebuck stated that if the sports betting case wins, online gaming will then go to every state that adopts sports betting. Rebuck has predicted that a favorable ruling in the sports betting case has the possibility to help online gambling explode across the US.

Other States Want In

Not only does New Jersey have a lot riding on this case, but other states do as well. For months now, we have seen other states show interest in the online gambling industry, particularly sports betting. Such states as Pennsylvania and New York have already put legislation in place to be ready to offer sports betting if the opportunity arises. Other states are likely to follow suit including West Virginia, Mississippi and Connecticut. Legislation is either in the works or being discussed.

And while a push of sports betting in the United States would happen quickly if the case is won in New Jersey, it doesn’t mean that online gaming will quickly follow suit. Even if federal changes were made to allow every state to offer online gaming, there would still be hurdles to cross. As we have seen with legislation efforts in the past, states run in to trouble when it comes to stakeholders.

Some casinos do not want to see online gaming offered. Others want to offer it but don’t want tribal venues or racinos involved. In other states, we have seen problems with tax rates or other issues. There is so much to consider and since each state is different, it would not be surprising to see issues come forward including push back or problems between stakeholders.

For now, we simply have to wait and see what the outcome will be in regards to the sports betting case. Many feel that this is finally the time when sports betting will become a reality in the United States across the board. However, only time will tell if the Supreme Court will rule in favor of New Jersey or if sports betting will stay the same in the US.