US Solicitor General Rumored to Advise Supreme Court to Deny New Jersey Sports Betting Appeal

Posted on: May 1, 2017, 04:00h. 

Last updated on: May 1, 2017, 02:30h.

The Office of the US Solicitor General is rumored be readying to advise the United States Supreme Court to deny New Jersey’s sports betting appeal.

solicitor general New Jersey sports betting
Rumors are circulating that incoming US Solicitor General Noel Francisco’s office won’t recommend the US Supreme Court take New Jersey’s sports betting appeal. (Image: Diego Radzinschi/National Law Journal)

Acting US Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, who is serving in the position until President Donald Trump’s nominee Noel Francisco is confirmed by Congress, is tasked with advising the country’s high court on whether it should accept the thousands of appeals it receives each year.

The US solicitor general’s office prepares briefs for the court, and serves as the federal government’s lawyer before the Supreme Court. Often called the 10th justice, the solicitor general’s opinion has historically been highly valued by the nine sitting judges.

According to Michelle Minton, a fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a DC-based public policy nonprofit that seeks to advance limited government initiatives, reports are being floated around the nation’s capital that the office will recommend the Supreme Court deny New Jersey’s sports betting request.

“Hearing chatter that Solicitor General’s office is ‘unlikely’ to recommend SCOTUS grant NJ’s PASPA appeal,” Minton tweeted on April 28. “Here’s hoping it’s wrong.”

In 2014, New Jersey passed a law to legalize sports betting at its horse racetracks and Atlantic City casinos. But federal courts, at the request of the NCAA and big four professional sports leagues, interjected and blocked the state from freeing sports gambling.

After the state lost its “en banc” appeal in the Third District last year, it petitioned the US Supreme Court to review the case.

Passing Over PASPA

The issue at hand regarding New Jersey’s Supreme Court appeal is PASPA, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. The congressional statute essentially banned all forms of sports gambling, with exceptions provided for Nevada, Montana, Delaware, and Oregon.

In March, Minton wrote in an op-ed, “Not only does the federal ban do nothing to protect consumers, but it prevents states from enacting their own protections. It is clear now that the sports gambling prohibition is not only useless, but counterproductive.”

According to her own reporting, the US solicitor general apparently disagrees.

Though Francisco is expected to be sworn into office in the coming weeks, he’s already working at the government agency. Prior to Trump’s nomination, Francisco served as one of four principal deputies working under the solicitor general.

Odds Favor PASPA

Should Minton’s sources be correct in that the office won’t recommend the Supreme Court take the sports betting appeal, it would be unlikely the high court will go against the solicitor general.

The Supreme Court follows the solicitor general’s opinion about 80 percent of the time. And the roughly 20 percent of the time it dissents typically occurs when the solicitor general recommends the high court review or take a case, and the justices opt not to.

Lawmakers in the Garden State are staying optimistic until a concrete verdict is reached.

“Everybody seems to agree that this is a fascinating case,” New Jersey attorney and Monmouth Park racetrack operator Dennis Drazin toldNorthJersey.comrecently. “We’ll see what happens.”