How a Supreme Court ruling could pave the way for legalized sports betting in Minnesota

The current law banning sports betting is arguably unconstitutional.
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The current law banning sports betting is arguably unconstitutional.
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Ever placed a (legal) bet on a sports fixture? If you're from Minnesota, chances are you'll have done it in Las Vegas.

That's because sports betting is only legal in four states – Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana – but the Supreme Court is considering a case that could open the doors for other states to join them.

We've taken a look at the debate over the future of sports gambling.

What is the Supreme Court going to rule on?

SCOTUS will this year rule on a challenge brought by the state of New Jersey to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992.

The act preempted states from regulating sports betting, save from any that met a 1991 deadline to legalize it (of which only 4 did, to varying degrees).

But New Jersey argues that PASPA is unconstitutional, violating the 10th Amendment protecting states' rights as the act mandates that states ban and control sports gambling.

During the oral arguments in December, sports attorney Aalok Sharma writes in the Star Tribune, Supreme Court justices "seemed concerned that Congress was directly controlling state and local legislature," asking instead why Congress didn't just ban sports betting outright.

Will New Jersey's challenge be successful?

It's actually looking pretty good.

Forbes reports that the general feeling following the submissions and comments made during the December hearings was that SCOTUS was prepared to rule PASPA unconstitutional.

As Justice Breyer noted during the arguments: "There is no federal policy against authorizing sports gambling but for a federal policy that says a state can’t authorize sports gambling," adding. "The subject matter of the law is the state, telling states what to do, and therefore, it falls within commandeering."

What this means for Minnesota

ABC News reported on Tuesday that gambling legislation tracking company, Eilers and Krejcik Gaming, has identified 18 states that could introduce sports gambling bills if PASPA is ruled unconstitutional.

Minnesota is one of them.

The company didn't include Minnesota as one of its 11 states that are most likely to enact such legislation, but definitely thinks we'll be having that conversation.

The wheels are already in motion too. Upon hearing that SCOTUS would consider New Jersey's case, state Rep. Pat Garafalo (R-Farmington) said he intends to introduce a bill in the 2018 session to regulate and legalize sports gambling in Minnesota.

According to MinnLawyer, he wants sports gambling to move away from the illegal "underground economy" and "into the light of day."

"It is time for Minnesota’s sports gambling laws to move out of the caveman era and into the 21st century," he said.

The impact it could have

Currently in Minnesota, you can "gamble" in online fantasy leagues like DraftKings and FanDuel, private money leagues with friends and co-workers, and have a bet with friends without fear of legal reprisals.

But as WCCO reports, you're not allowed to gambling using tip boards or make online offshore sports bets.

Wider legalization and regulation of sports gambling in Minnesota would bring in an extra $100 million in tax revenue a year, Sharma said, and allow the Minnesota Department of Public Safety to "ferret out bad actors."

It comes after the Minnesota DPS announced a crackdown on illegal sports betting at the start of the current NFL season.

As well as allowing sports betting in physical locations like casinos, legalizing it could also open the way for online sports gambling.

However, there will be concerns over the possible rise in gambling addiction, with countries that have liberal gambling laws, such as Australia, finding that online gambling in particular is taking a heavy toll on young men, ABC Australia reports

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