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Online Gambling Lawyer Interviews Jeff Ifrah on SCOTUS Decision to Hear NJ Sports Betting Appeal

The Supreme Court of the United States (‘SCOTUS’) announced
on 27 June 2017 that it is to hear New Jersey’s appeal to
allow sports betting in casinos and racetracks within the
state, an activity currently prohibited in US states, except
four states granted immunity, by the federal Professional
and Amateur Sports Protection Act 1992 (‘PASPA’).
In attempting to find a legal way to offer sports gambling, New
Jersey has faced opposition from the National Collegiate
Athletic Association and US sports leagues. Most recently it
received an en banc hearing from the US Court of Appeals for
the Third Circuit, resulting in the Court ruling on 9 August 2016
to invalidate a 2014 New Jersey law allowing sports betting.
New Jersey’s request for an appeal hearing at SCOTUS was
widely expected to end in refusal, particularly after the U.S.
Solicitor General’s Office recommended on 24 May 2017 that
SCOTUS not hear the case; such recommendations are typically
followed by SCOTUS. “With the case’s history, the fact that
SCOTUS decided to take up the case really beat the odds,”
said Jeff Ifrah, Founding Member at Ifrah Law. “On the other
hand, it’s not a surprise that SCOTUS decided to take the case
because of the timing. There has been a huge shift in public
opinion about gambling in the United States since New Jersey
set out to legalise sports betting for its residents. The popularity
and prevalence of fantasy sports, online poker, and mobile
prize-based gaming has paved the way for acceptance and
interest by consumers – and even the leagues themselves.”
A new set of briefs must now be filed in the case, with New
Jersey’s brief due by 10 August 2017; oral argument in the
case is likely to take place in autumn 2017, with a decision
not expected until 2018, but likely not later than June 2018. “I
think the likelihood for SCOTUS to rule in New Jersey’s favour
is strong,” says Ifrah. “The timing is very promising. There is a
hospitable environment for a regulated sports betting industry
to flourish: we have the technology to ensure consumer safety
and ethical operations and the legislative framework from
casino, poker and fantasy sports betting to create workable
regulation. Also, there is good data which shows what the
positive economic impact would be for states via tax revenues
and market growth.” Commentators have also pointed to the
data around the high overturn rate for SCOTUS last year, which
is above 80%, boding well for a possible overturn of PASPA.
Ifrah also believes that a New Jersey victory in this case could
translate into legal online sports betting in the US. “I think it’s
very likely that SCOTUS is interested in hearing this case in
order to repeal PASPA and uphold states’ rights guaranteed
by the Tenth Amendment,” Ifrah says. “If that happens, it will
open the gates for US legalised online sports betting.”

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