Pallone Urges Solicitor General to Endorse Supreme Court Review of New Jersey Sports Betting Case

May 16, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) today sent a letter to Acting Solicitor General of the U.S. Jeff Wall strongly recommending that he endorse the review by the U.S. Supreme Court of the New Jersey sports betting case. The request came after the U.S. Supreme Court asked for advice from the Solicitor General’s office about whether or not 130 cases, including the New Jersey case, warranted review by the nation’s highest court.   

The case centers around a 1992 federal law entitled the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which allegedly prohibits sports betting nationally with certain exceptions.  In November 2011, New Jersey residents supported a statewide referendum to amend the state constitution to authorize the legislature to pass legislation allowing sports gambling. The New Jersey legislature subsequently passed a law that would only allow sports gambling at casinos in Atlantic City and state racetracks. Soon after, a handful of professional and amateur sports organizations sued under PASPA, claiming the New Jersey law would cause them irreparable financial and reputational harm.

After the Third Circuit Court decided in favor of the sports organizations, the New Jersey legislature passed another law in 2014 in response to the court’s findings.  Again, the sports organizations sued, and the Third Circuit once again ruled against New Jersey.    

“This case is about whether the Third Circuit accorded sufficient room to the State of New Jersey to effectuate the will of its citizens under New Jersey’s state Constitution, laws, and sovereign powers under the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” Pallone wrote.  “Without the Supreme court’s review and a decision on this appeal, these areas of disagreement and conflict will inevitably grow and lead to more confusion.  After all, the question of how a state authorizes sports gambling by law or compact without violating PASPA remains extremely hazy.”

Pallone wrote that New Jersey and other Petitioners have argued all along that PASPA is unlawful on its face, for impermissibly ordering the State of New Jersey not to permit sports gambling in accordance with the New Jersey Constitution and its State laws.

“New Jersey should have the same opportunity to proceed with sports betting that has been allowed in other states,” Pallone wrote.  “The Third Circuit’s decisions have usurped the power of New Jerseyans and the State of New Jersey to share in the considerable profits from sports betting.”

Despite being illegal in most states, traditional and internet sports betting is widespread, and functions almost exclusively through organized crime. Of the nearly $400 billion that is spent annually in the U.S. on sports betting, 99 percent is illegal.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to determine if it will take the New Jersey sports betting case by the end of June.