Trump Administration Holding Firm Against Federal Repeal of Sports Betting Ban, Says NJ’s Christie

Posted on: June 14, 2017, 11:30h. 

Last updated on: June 14, 2017, 12:02h.

The Trump administration isn’t too anxious to push Congress on a bill that would repeal the current federal ban on sports betting. That’s according to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R), whose state remains embattled in its quest to allow horse racetracks and Atlantic City casinos to offer wagering on sports.

Trump administration sports betting
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, left, says the Trump administration won’t be leading the charge to repeal PASPA, the federal sports betting ban, but he still clings to hope that the Supreme Court will overthrow the ban. (Image: Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

The lame duck governor is now in his second term, and as such has spent time co-hosting the Boomer & Carton sports radio talk show, perhaps to prepare for his next career move.

Asked by a caller whether Monmouth Park’s sportsbook, which was completed soon after Christie signed a sports betting bill into law in 2014, would start taking bets this year, the governor answered, “I hope so. We’re at the United States Supreme Court. Hopefully they decide on our side, and if they do, Monmouth would be open inside a week.”

In 2011, voters in New Jersey passed a referendum in favor of sports betting.

Trump Holding Fast

During the radio show, Christie highlighted what he perceives to be the federal government’s hypocrisy when it comes to enforcing congressional laws. Specifically, how America views medical and recreational marijuana.

Possession and smoking of pot remains illegal under federal law, labeled as a Schedule I drug in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. But dozens of states across America have passed measures legalizing medical marijuana, and Colorado, California, Nevada, Massachusetts, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington have also seen recreational use decriminalized at the state level.

Americans are getting high from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and the federal government is doing little to enforce its law banning pot. Christie says the feds’ interference with New Jersey’s wishes to allow those inside its borders to place financial wagers on sports represents a double standard in this regard.

The federal government intervened when Monmouth Park tried to open its sports book three years ago.

“They pick and choose. The Obama administration said it was okay to legalize recreational marijuana even though marijuana is still illegal on federal level, but the Obama administration said ‘No’ on gambling,” Christie explained.

As for President Trump’s position on marijuana and sports betting? “I think they’re against both. That’s why you go to the Supreme Court, to try to get them to trump the executive branch,” Christie said. “No pun intended.”

The Supreme Court could issue its decision by the end of June on whether it will hear the Garden State’s case, or more likely, after its summer hiatus when it reconvenes in October.

Unwarranted Optimism

In his answer, Christie failed to also mention that it seems unlikely at this time that the high court will actually accept New Jersey’s sports betting appeal. Last month, Acting US Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall recommended that the court reject the petition.

Often referred to as the “10th Justice,” the US Solicitor General prepares briefs on the federal government’s view on appeals, and makes recommendations to whether they should be heard. Of the more than 7,000 petitions it receives each year, the Supreme Court typically requests briefs on 100 of them or fewer.

When the SG does recommend that an appeal go to court, the justices frequently oblige. With Wall opposing New Jersey’s wishes, the odds are against Christie and the state’s hopes, but the governor remains inexplicably encouraged.