New Jersey’s Frank Pallone Petitions Trump Administration to Support PASPA Review

Posted on: May 16, 2017, 03:00h. 

Last updated on: May 16, 2017, 05:02h.

New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone is continuing his efforts to bring legalized sports gambling to Atlantic City casinos and horse racetracks in the Garden State.

Frank Pallone New Jersey sports betting PASPA
US Rep. Frank Pallone wants the US government to stay out of sports betting, but before that, he needs the US Supreme Court to rule against a federal law passed in 1992. (Image:

In a letter this week to Acting Solicitor General Jeff Wall, Pallone (D-District 6) encouraged the third highest-ranking member in the Department of Justice to recommend to the Supreme Court that it consider reviewing the legal merits of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

The 1992 federal statute made it illegal for states to allow sports betting markets to operate, but with exceptions provided for four states, which Nevada only utilizes fully today.

“New Jersey should have the same opportunity to proceed with sports betting that has been allowed in other states,” Pallone declared.

In 2014, Governor Chris Christie (R) signed a sports betting bill into law, but the NCAA, along with the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL, quickly interjected with a lawsuit.

Federal courts have repeatedly sided with the sports organizations, and the Supreme Court is New Jersey’s last potential stand.

Separation of Powers

The solicitor general is often referred to as the Supreme Court’s 10th justice, as he or she is responsible for preparing briefs for the high court on the thousands of appeals it receives each year. The general lays out the framework of current federal law surrounding the cases, with background on the legislation in question.

The solicitor typically makes a recommendation as to why the case should or shouldn’t be accepted, and the Supreme Court typically obliges. Rumors circulated earlier this month that Wall is going to suggest the PASPA appeal be dismissed.

“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,” Pallone explained this week. “The question of how a state authorizes sports gambling … without violating PASPA remains extremely hazy.”

New Jersey’s reasoning is twofold. The state argues PASPA violates the 10th Amendment, in that powers not expressly reserved for the federal government in the US Constitution are powers delegated to the states. Proponents of PASPA repeal also contend that PASPA is discriminatory.

Trump Nominee Waiting Confirmation

If the reports are correct that Wall isn’t going to recommend the Supreme Court take New Jersey’s sports betting challenge, Pallone will be hoping the US Senate quickly confirms President Donald Trump’s nominee for solicitor general, Noel Francisco.

Currently a principal deputy of the solicitor general, Francisco said during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings this week, “One of the things that makes this country great is that we have a government that is bound by the Constitution and, just as importantly, a separation of powers.”

Francisco’s comments seem to display a strong support for the Tenth Amendment. Since the Constitution says nothing about sports gambling, the amendment could mandate that states decide their individual athletics wagering laws.

Trump’s pick might be Pallone’s saving grace, a rather ironic potential development considering the New Jersey politician’s strong distaste for the commander-in-chief. He’s recently tweeted his opinion that the president is incompetent.