All eyes on Capitol Hill as Chris Christie seeks Supreme Drop of PASPA

Today, US Supreme Court Justices’ will hear initial ‘oral arguments’, put forward by New Jersey officials seeking to repeal provisions of 1992’s ‘Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA)’.

New Jersey continues its decade-long battle to implement ‘state-licensed sports betting’, which had been previously rejected in 2015 by the US Justice Department.

Arguing that PASPA regulations interfere with US states’ individual rights to self-govern, New Jersey has taken its sports betting appeal to the Supreme Court, the US’ highest ranking law court.

Should the Supreme Court uphold New Jersey’s initial motion, state officials will be allowed to debate the implementation of a New Jersey betting bill in 2018. New Jersey officials would have to convince five of the Supreme Court’s nine justices to approve its sports bill.

Outgoing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will put forward oral arguments detailing that PASPA is unconstitutional and damaging to states’ abilities to govern and create new tax revenues through sports betting in licensed venues.

All US sports stakeholders will be monitoring movements on Capitol Hill, in a hearing that has been labelled as ‘Chris Christie vs US Pro Leagues’.

New Jersey’s latest attempt to repeal PASPA has been met with mixed reactions. Pro-US sports betting stakeholders believe that the Supreme Court hearings may be the best chance to gain traction for licensed betting in 2018.

Backed by the American Gaming Association (AGA), Christie and New Jersey officials have stated that they have a ’50 state brief’ supporting their mandate to eliminate PASPA.

Nevertheless, even state-wide support may not be sufficient to turn the Supreme Court Justices’ judgement in favour of New Jersey’s appeal. The subject of Sports betting continues to be a controversial issue between states and their relationships’ with the powerful US pro-leagues (NFL, NHL, MLB and NBA).

Last October, the Trump Administration showed its support for maintaining PASPA laws, issuing Solicitor General Noel Francisco to file a Supreme Court brief supporting US-pro leagues’ stance against sports betting being legalised at a state level.

A further dose of reality is served by US legal experts, who point out that the Supreme Court has declined to review PASPA several times. Put simply, legal experts believe that outgoing governor Chris Christie has to play a ‘miracle shot’ to convince the US Justices to move forward on sports betting.

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