Supreme Court Offers New Jersey Hope in Sports Betting Appeal, Asks for Trump Administration View

Posted on: January 18, 2017, 02:00h. 

Last updated on: January 18, 2017, 12:08h.

The US Supreme Court has requested the US solicitor general file a brief on the federal government’s view of New Jersey’s sports betting plight.

Supreme Court Offers Hope for New Jersey Sports Betting
The Supreme Court has asked for the Trump administration’s view on sports betting, which begs the question, what exactly is it? (Image: Getty Images)

The court was due to decide Tuesday on whether it would hear an appeal of a Third Circuit ruling in August that blocked the state’s attempt to legalize sport betting solely at its casinos and racetracks.

While the request for the solicitor general’s view will delay that decision, it offers New Jersey a glimmer of hope; if the Supreme Court had no intention to hear the case it would have simply dismissed it, as it did 70 other cases on Tuesday.

The court is eager to know the forthcoming Trump administration’s stance on the issue of sports betting and PASPA, the federal law that prohibits it in all but four states.

That throws up an intriguing question: what is Trump’s view on sports betting?

Lightning Bolt

As a former Atlantic City casino owner, whose campaign was supported by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (the lead plaintiff in the case), would he be willing to do the state a favor?

“This is the lightning bolt that could shake up the sports-betting legalization debate,” sports attorney Daniel Wallach, who has followed the case closely for years, told this week. “If Donald Trump is truly dialed in on this issue, he might just have the ability to influence the sports-betting legalization debate in ways that were not even contemplated until now.”

“I think we may have actually underestimated Donald Trump’s impact on sports betting,” he added. “Much of the recent speculation centered on how he could push for federal legislation, a process that could take up to several years to accomplish. But now, Donald Trump’s impact on the sports betting legalization debate will be immediate… and could be decisive.

Will There be a Different Take on PASPA?

Wallach says that if Trump did decide he wanted legal sports betting, he now has the opportunity to influence the Supreme Court’s decision through his choice of appointment for new solicitor general, yet to be decided.

“The DOJ will have new leadership. A new Attorney General and Solicitor General will likely be in place soon. So it will be interesting to see if they have a different take on PASPA,” said Christopher Soriano of the Duane Morris law firm in Cherry Hill in New Jersey.

The solicitor general was given no deadline, but usual practice is to file its briefs by May so that the Court can consider the petition before the end of June.