As a potentially historic Supreme Court hearing on the future of sports betting edges closer, two South Jersey congressmen are asking the House Judiciary Committee to conduct oversight hearings regarding what to do if it’s approved.
U.S. Reps. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd, and Donald Norcross, D-1st, have written a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and ranking committee member Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., seeking hearings on the issue.
“We strongly believe the relevant committees should examine the issue prior to the court’s ruling to ensure Congress is fully informed and positioned to quickly respond to the court,” according to the letter dated Friday.
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear New Jersey’s challenge to the more than two-decade-old Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, the federal law that prohibits sports betting. Arguments for the case are scheduled for Dec. 4, with a decision expected in 2018.
Under current law, the only states in which sports betting is legal are Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon. Nevada is the only state to allow single-game wagering.
Legalizing sports betting in the United States would curb a $150 billion illegal market while supporting up to 152,000 jobs, creating an estimated $26 billion in economic output and generating up to $5.3 billion in tax revenue nationwide, according to new research by Oxford Economics released earlier this year. New Jersey is expected to generate more than $173 million in tax revenue, according to the study.
“This massive illegal market lacks consumer protections and deprives states and local jurisdictions of revenue that would otherwise stem from a regulated marketplace,” according to the letter. “In recognition of PASPA’s failure to prevent illegal sports betting and the benefits of regulations and taxing this activity, numerous states have either enacted or advanced legislative measures to authorize sports betting in recent years.”
If the court overturns the ban, casino properties in Atlantic City are expected to act quickly to take advantage of hundreds of millions of dollars in potential revenue.
The decision of the court to hear the case is seen as positive for the law being overturned, officials have said. The Supreme Court has an 80 percent overturn rate, according to the State and Local Legal Center, a Washington, D.C.-based Supreme Court advocacy group for state and local governments.
According to the results of a recent national UMass Lowell-Washington Post poll, support for legalizing sports betting nationwide continues to grow.
A majority of Americans supports making gambling on professional sports legal in all states, according to the poll. The results represent an about-face from more than 20 years ago, when 56 percent of those surveyed for a Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll opposed legalizing sports betting.
“We are seeing a trend towards sports betting in this country,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association. “Whether it’s the teams that have been placed in Las Vegas or the fact that 14 states have introduced legislation to get out ahead of sports betting, there is a trend here. The time and situation that we are in right now is far different with respect to sports betting.”