Can Congress Stop N.J. From Legalizing Sports Betting?


On Tuesday voters in New Jersey overwhelmingly approved a nonbinding referendum calling for the legalization of sports betting at casinos and racetracks. Legislation to implement the policy, sponsored by state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) and supported by Gov. Chris Christie, is expected to pass by the end of the year. But it will clash with the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which purports to ban wagering on sports in states that did not already allow it when the law was passed in 1992. As gambling law expert I. Nelson Rose notes, "it is difficult to know where in the U.S. Constitution Congress got this power to begin with," since "gambling has always been an issue for the states to decide on their own." He points out that some forms of sports betting are permitted in Alaska, Delaware, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming, all of which were grandfathered under PASPA. "It is going to be difficult to find a constitutional reason why nine of the 50 states can have sports betting," he writes, "but New Jersey cannot."

Last March a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit in which Lesniak sought to overturn PASPA, ruling that the issue was not ripe because sports betting was still illegal in New Jersey. Once the legislature enacts Lesniak's bill, however, the lawsuit can be revived. Rose thinks it will be successful, but litigation could delay the introduction of sports betting in New Jersey (and other states that might decide to follow suit) for years if the U.S. District Court's order is stayed pending an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit.

While all bans on gambling strike me as ridiculous, singling out sports betting is especially absurd, rather like allowing the slaughter of cows, pigs, and sheep for food but drawing the line at horses. It is outrageous that organizations such as the NFL, which argues that betting sullies the integrity of the sport, think they have a right to stop other people from wagering on their games. It is even more outrageous that legislators accept that argument, especially when, as in the case of ASPA, they have no legal authority to impose their arbitrary preferences on others.

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  1. Congress can and should do anything it wants. That’s what a lot of people think these days, anyway.

    1. Thank god for Chris Christie. I will be down in AC every weekend!!

  2. The nerdpocalypse is upon us.

    Behold! The mass exodus of friends, relatives and casual acquaintances has begun. Watch in awe as they retreat to their basements, Doritos and Mountain Dew in hand, for this holiest of three-day weekends to electronically fap away as they create their characters from scratch.

    Look on in wonder as they acquire skills no mere man can possess. The power to enchant! The power to hurl fire at demons with the mere press of “triangle,” “square,” “square,” “circle.”

    Quake in fear as their tailed cat-men congregate in chat rooms named “Morrowinner!” and “Skyrimmer” to plot strategies for dungeon survival and plan their weddings. But beware! The chance for survival is nil if you stumble across one of these meetings and have failed to activate a regeneration and jinx charm ahead of time.

    And on Monday, scratch your head in wonderment as they emerge, unshaven and unwashed, from their semi-comatose state to re-enter the realm of earth: a realm filled with alien beings who had other things to do like go to bars and talk to women.

    1. So, you’ve acquired the game already?

      1. I am one of the alien beings I self-referred to.

        Besides, I own a Wii. 🙁

        1. That’s an injustice. You should Occupy Best Buy and demand a PS3 or an Xbox 360. Or, better yet, get a gaming PC.

        2. Elder Scrolls is a PC series ported over to consoles not the other way around. Hell the first one was in DOS. Fuck consoles (and fuck my 128mb graphics card 🙁 )!

          1. We have Elder Scrolls III for the PC.

            Consoles are inferior, but I thought Oblivion worked okay on the Xbox.

            1. III was the one I have played the most extensively. I had the same probelm with IV as I do now with V. I had to wait till I got a new PC to play it.

              1. + 5 internets to all, and a bar of gold pressed latinum

            2. but I thought Oblivion worked okay on the Xbox.

              It worked okay on the Xbox because its interface was pretty much designed for it. Which, BTW, sucked ass when playing it on the PC.

              Personally, I think they should have developed the UI’s differently, keeping the Morrowind UI (or something close to it) for the PC version and only using the one they did use for the Xbox version.

              I hope they learned from their mistake when they did Skyrim. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to find out for at least a couple of months, since I’m broke.

        3. Only nine more days until Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword hits the shelves.

          1. There’s a new “Angry Birds” coming out supposedly before Christmas. I’ll be fine with my droid, my iPad and my laptop.

            In the meantime, it’s back to Super Mario 3 for me (seriously).

            1. I’ve been getting back into Roguelikes, they are free. Plus lots of interesting indie games that go on sale on Steam all the time.

            2. Go and Scrabble are the extent of my gaming.

          2. Just finished Deus Ex Human Evolution. Really enjoyable, stupid boss-fights aside.

  3. “sullies the integrity of the sport”
    (epic spit take)

    No institution short of the Catholic Church tolerates and gives lip service to illegal and unethical behavior moreso than the major sports leagues. From encouraging the self-destructive use of freakish substances to insisting on taxpayer money, they do all this to uphold some arbitrary honor of a fucking GAME, like it MATTERS. It does not build character. It is a cesspool of corruption and egregious behavior.

    1. There’s nothing unethical about the use of steroids at all and it’s only illegal because our Congress has usurped authority it doesn’t properly constitutionally possess.

  4. It is going to be difficult to find a constitutional reason why-

    Stop right there.

  5. “it is difficult to know where in the U.S. Constitution Congress got this power to begin with,”

    Are you serious? Are you serious?

  6. New Jersey will still suck regardless.

  7. “…singling out sports betting is especially absurd, rather like allowing the slaughter of cows, pigs, and sheep for food but drawing the line at horses.”

    I invented someting called Burger on the Go: It allows you to obtain six regular sized hamburgers, or twelve sliders, from a horse without killing the animal.

    1. Putting horse apples on a bun and selling them is a piss-poor strategy.

      Besides, didnt these guys already try to put shit on a bun and sell it as a “burger?”

  8. You know it’s funny, England and Australia both allow almost unlimited betting on sporting events (and just about everything else) and I defy anyone to show that either of those countries have been harmed by it.

    This is not to say that either is a laissez faire paradise on gambling. Bookmakers are required to be licensed and I’m not sure, but IIANM how many licenses are issued is controlled in some Australian states by the bookmakers club.

    1. Yeah online gambling is big business in England. They are one of the largest sponsers of the Prem League so the sport benefits as well.

      1. Hell, you go to any decent-size stadium and there’s a bookie window in the concourse. You can get a bet down at halftime on whether your team wins then go back to watching the game.

        1. I remember an article in Australian Cyclist in the early sixties talking about the bookies walking through the aisles taking bets on the next sprint at a Six-Day race at the Melbourne Olympic Velodrome.

    2. We can’t use the decadent remnants of a crumbled empire for our social norms, Isaac. It goes against our American Exceptionalism.

      Unless Justice Breyer says it’s okay. Then we can.

    3. Sports gambling leads to cameras.


  9. Mind you, the fact that something like eighty percent of the population of Australia gamble will be considered as evidence of social harm since in America gambling seems to have been ruled to be ipso facto bad.

    The attitude towards gambling rather than the sexual mores of the two countries is where the difference between being a country founded by Puritans or one founded by convicts shows most starkly.

  10. “it is difficult to know where in the U.S. Constitution Congress got this power to begin with,”

    Commerce clause. It doesn’t matter if that wasn’t the original rationale used for gaining such powers since it will be used for maintaining it.

  11. How does the NFL think betting hurts their brand? I woudl think that, if anything, betting on sports creates more fans that are more involved in each game.

  12. the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA)

    Good gravy.

    Can they be any more blatant in their cronyism?

    I suppose they could, if they forced the LEECHES to split the take with the various leagues, 80-20.

  13. As gambling law expert I. Nelson Rose notes, “it is difficult to know where in the U.S. Constitution Congress got this power to begin with,”

    Commerce Clause bitch.

    1. General Welfare! Don’t forget General Welfare!

      1. And the Happiness Clause!

  14. It is a cesspool of corruption and egregious behavior.

    No wonder Congress takes such an intense interest.

  15. Is that Jimmy the Greek or Barney the Frank?

  16. There’s a sports betting room at Choctaw Casino in Oklahoma. Wonder how that’s legal if they aren’t one of the nine states.

    1. Ah – I think that’s just for horse races/off track betting. Never went inside. I assume horse race betting is legal because they have a lower presumption of cheating?

      1. I assume horse race betting is legal because they have a lower presumption of cheating?

        WTF? Is there a gambling scenario with a higher presumption of cheating?

        I doubt anyone has ever lost an NFL game because a player had sponges stuffed in his nose pregame.

        1. The counterargument is that horse races have long been a betting ground, resulting in a higher occurence of/incentive for cheating.

          My question was because in the other sports, the player themselves may have even more incentive to be “in” on the outcome. Horses could care less about money. And its easier to bet against yourself, throw the game/match and profit. Alternately, players could bet for themselves and that will encourage them to play better. Especially in collegiate athletics, it would dirty the water, but as to overall good-bad impact on the game seems like a wash.

          Of course, from a libertarian perspective, none of this matters at all. Betting happens in the black market if it doesn’t happen legally, and its effect on outcomes is more hidden. At least out in the public, it can be better analyzed and caught.

          1. You may not have noticed, but horses do have humans riding on them, who can easily throw a race. Especially a low money claimer where they can make more taking a dive on a favorite than they can from their cut of the purse.

            BTW, did anyone else see the 5’11” jockey win the Breeder’s Cup Turf? Both the tallest and youngest jockey to win a BC race.

          2. There have been a few cases in recent years of obscure tennis games being fixed and being discovered thanks to analysis of betting patterns on Betfair.

            And, to be fair, the NCAA, NFL, etc. do maintain lines of communication to the Vegas sportsbooks to investigate anomalous betting patterns there.

      2. Horse racing got a carve out from the Wire Act (and later got one from UIGEA, for that matter).

        To be fair, prior to that law, Vegas racebooks were obligated to pay at track odds despite being barred by the feds from participating in the parimutuel pools. There were a fair number of documented cases at the SoCal tracks (Santa Anita, mostly) where syndicates would bet heavily enough on a horse whose jockey was being quietly paid to lose to raise the track payouts on the other horses and then bet those horses big in Vegas. The racebook would then have very unbalanced action that it couldn’t arbitrage.

        The argument for horse racing being less corrupt has generally been that if there’s, say, seven horses in a race, you’ve got to pay off six people to win your bet, while you only have to pay off one basketball player on the favorite to miss a few shots to win but not cover or try to get a game to go under the total.

        Of course, if exchange wagering (where bettors are betting against each other, i.e. each bet on a horse to win requires someone to make a balancing bet that the horse doesn’t win) comes to be in the US, it may enable more cheating in horseracing (this is the argument advanced by the parimutuel operators; it was also advanced by the traditional bookmakers in the UK to try to get Betfair banned… in that case it’s even more egregious because a bookmaker accepting a bet with given odds on a horse to win is exactly equivalent to the bookmaker betting on the horse not to win).

  17. Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union)


    1. Yes, really.

      Warning: Government motherfuckers didn’t use thumbnails to put their 2.3MB images into small spots on that page.

      1. Well I knew it had to be that there really was a locality of that name in NJ, but the allusion was just so apropos.

  18. Correction:

    “It is outrageous that organizations such as the NFL, which argues that betting sullies the integrity of the sport, think they ARE ACTUALLY STOPPING other people from wagering on their games.”

  19. Were Jimmy the Greek and Charles Nelson Reilly separated at birth?

    Gene: “Certain athletes run faster and jump higher because they’re *blank*”

    1. [Plays funky “Waiting for an Answer on Match Game” music.]

    2. Match Game was the best game show ever. I keep hearing talks of it being revived, but I dont think there is anyone today that could pull it off.

      1. From wikipedia:

        TBS commissioned a pilot for a revived Match Game as part of an overhaul of its late night television programming. On June 21, 2008, Andrew Daly hosted a pilot episode with Sarah Silverman and Norm Macdonald among the panelists, using the Gameshow Marathon episode’s set. TBS eventually passed on the project in favor of Lopez Tonight.

        That sounds…awful.

        1. It can’t happen again. The people, the times, the clothes. Totally unreplicable.

          1. Betty White is still alive.

            1. As is Richard Dawson, Fannie Flagg, Jo Ann Pflug, and Marcia Wallace. Bunch of the regulars are gone, though.

              1. As are.

                1. It’s too bad Bob Crane and Richard Dawson were never panelists at the same time. The banter between those two would’ve been… interesting.

                  1. I be; you was; he, she, or it done been.

          2. It wouldn’t work now because most of the time on the original at least one of the celebs was drunk off their ass during the taping.

            That wouldn’t be allowed to happen now.

  20. I know the NFL would be very upset if betting on games was allowed in the states where games were held. Luckily, there are no NFL teams in New Jersey.

  21. I do love the way you have framed this particular challenge plus it does indeed supply us a lot of fodder for thought. Nevertheless, through what I have witnessed, I simply just hope as the comments stack on that men and women stay on point and not get started on a soap box involving some other news du jour. Still, thank you for this superb point and though I can not agree with it in totality, I regard the point of view

  22. i support the facebook campaign for legalize sports betting

  23. suport the facebook campaign

  24. Of course no, this is the types of business where mostly run by prominent personalities and even supported by highest officials. This one needs to be legalize so everyone can be accountable and audit every revenue that it can bring to the local government, though, I know that those who disagree perhaps, for sure they are harvesting much from this and it will reduce if this one has been granted fr legalities. On the other hand, if the legalization of the sports betting can bring jobs to everyone, then it is good. However, I just wish that whoever authorities that runs this new policy, they must also be transparent on all aspects, otherwise, this can be a source of corruptions.

    George Nicholson of Dynamite Sports Picks Agency.

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