Supreme Court ruling makes sports betting a possibility nationwide

AP Photo

Supreme Court ruling makes sports betting a possibility nationwide

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday gave its go-ahead for states to allow gambling on sports across the nation, striking down a federal law that barred betting on football, basketball, baseball and other sports in most states.

The justices voted 6-3 to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a 1992 law that forbade state-authorized sports gambling with some exceptions. It made Nevada the only state where a person could wager on the results of a single game. Many states have hoped their cut of legalized sports gambling could help solve budget problems. Stock prices for casino operators and equipment makers surged after the ruling was announced.

The ruling, in a case from New Jersey, creates an opening to bring an activity out of the shadows that many Americans already see as a mainstream hobby. The American Gaming Association estimates that Americans illegally wager about $150 billion on sports each year, and one research firm estimated before the ruling that if the Supreme Court were to strike down the law 32 states would likely offer sports betting within five years.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the court, “The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make. Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own. Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decided whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not.”

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor dissented. Ginsburg wrote for the three that when a portion of a law violates the Constitution, the court “ordinarily engages in a salvage rather than a demolition operation,” preserving what it can. She said that instead of using a “scalpel to trim the statute” her colleagues used “an axe” to cut the remainder down. Breyer agreed with the majority of the court that part of the law must be struck down but said that should not have doomed the rest of the law.

Concerned that questions will be raised at some point that betting could affect teams’ performance and the outcome of games, all four major U.S. professional sports leagues, the NCAA and the federal government had urged the court to uphold the federal law. In court, the NBA, NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball had argued that New Jersey’s gambling expansion would hurt the integrity of their games. Outside court, however, leaders of all but the NFL have shown varying degrees of openness to legalized sports gambling.

On Monday, Major League Baseball issued a statement saying the Supreme Court ruling would have “profound effects” on the league and that it would “continue to seek the proper protections for our sport.”

Here's the full MLB statement:

“Today’s decision by the United States Supreme Court will have profound effects on Major League Baseball.  As each state considers whether to allow sports betting, we will continue to seek the proper protections for our sport, in partnership with other professional sports.  Our most important priority is protecting the integrity of our games.  We will continue to support legislation that creates air-tight coordination and partnerships between the state, the casino operators and the governing bodies in sports toward that goal.”

NBA commissioner Adam Silver says the pro basketball league remains favor “of a federal framework that would provide a uniform approach to sports gambling in states that choose to permit it.” He said that “regardless of the particulars of any future sports betting law, the integrity of our game remains our highest priority.”

Here's Silver's full statement released Monday after the ruling:

The NFL also released a statement:

As did the NHL:

The NCAA’s chief legal officer said the organization is still reviewing the court’s decision but added that it “will adjust sports wagering and championship policies to align with the direction from the court.”

The court’s decision came in a case from New Jersey, which has fought for years to legalize gambling on sports at casinos and racetracks. Former Gov. Chris Christie said after arguments in the case in December that if justices sided with the state, bets could be taken “within two weeks” of a decision.

After the ruling was announced, the former Republican governor tweeted that it was a “great day for the rights of states and their people to make their own decisions.” The state’s current governor, Democrat Phil Murphy, also cheered the ruling, saying he was “thrilled” to see the high court strike down the “arbitrary ban.” He said he looked forward to working with the Legislature to “enact a law authorizing and regulating sports betting in the very near future.”

Monmouth Park, a racetrack at the Jersey Shore, has already set up a sports book operation and has previously estimated it could take bets within two weeks of a favorable ruling.

Tony Rodio, president of Tropicana Entertainment, said his Atlantic City casino will “absolutely” offer sports betting once it can get it up and running. “It’s been a long time coming,” he said.

New Jersey has spent years and millions of dollars in legal fees trying to legalize sports betting. In 2012, with voters’ support, New Jersey lawmakers passed a law allowing sports betting, directly challenging the 1992 federal law. The four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA sued, and the state lost in court.

In 2014, New Jersey tried a different tactic by repealing laws prohibiting sports gambling at casinos and racetracks. It argued that taking its laws off the books was different from authorizing sports gambling. The state lost again and then took the case to the Supreme Court.

More than a dozen states had supported New Jersey, which argued that Congress exceeded its authority when it passed its law. New Jersey said the Constitution allows Congress to pass laws barring wagering on sports, but Congress can’t require states to keep sports gambling prohibitions in place.

Associated Press reporter Wayne Parry contributed reporting from Atlantic City, New Jersey and Steve Megargee contributed reporting from Knoxville, Tennessee.

© 2018 by Associated Press.

What happened Sunday in Jacksonville won't happen again

What happened Sunday in Jacksonville won't happen again

Sunday was bad. Really bad. Did it signal a sea change in the AFC -- an AFsea change, if you will?

Probably not. 

Here's the logic: As you've probably been reminded roughly 7,000 times since the Jaguars wrapped up their 31-20 win over the Patriots Sunday evening, Bill Belichick teams get better over the course of the year. They have at least one bad early season loss, then the defense gets better over time to the point where it's good enough in the Super Bowl, provided you don't sit the star cornerback. 

For as troubling as Sunday looked, you can be confident enough in that improvement happening again to the point where the defense will look a heck of a lot better if and when these teams meet in the playoffs. 

What you can't be as confident in is that Blake Bortles will do that again. 

Bortles is fine. He's not great, and that gets him a lot of attention because a lot of other parts of that team are. On Sunday, the only time the Patriots touched him was when they seemingly put a gold jacket on him at the end of the first half. When all was said and done, the fifth-year QB had gone for 377 yards with four touchdowns and a pick. 

There are a lot of takeaways you can have from that game, most of which are probably about the defense being pretty bad right now. "Oh shoot, Blake Bortles is actually awesome!" isn't one of them. That's because he's been in the league long enough for him to establish what he is. Unless there's some sort of Eli Manning phenomenon going on here -- which should still bewilder people to this day -- Patriots fans should still feel pretty confident against the Jaguars, for now. 


The "pretty" and the "for now" are important there because this is a team that still almost beat you once without Bortles being great. He was good in that AFC Championship -- 23 of 36 for 293 with a touchdown and no picks -- but his impact on that contest would fall under the "didn't lose the game for them, but wasn't exactly dominant" category. 

And that's common enough. Even with how important the quarterback position is, you need to be truly horrible to actually be incapable of winning on a good team. "Meh" QBs have won, and Bortles is more "meh" than horrible. 

As for the "for now," if that team is ever above average at quarterback while adding weapons and maintaining what they are on defense, they'd seemingly be favorites in a conference that's looking for someone to establish themselves as the Patriots wind down. If this group doesn't prove to be a flash in the pan and adds the necessary pieces, it's plausible that they could become the class of the AFC. 

But they're not there yet, at least as it relates to this season. Because Tom Brady's still there and the Patriots defense will get better. It always does because that's what Bill Belichick teams do. 

If we're going to look at the history there, we've also got to look at the history everywhere else. To expect Bortles to become the player he was Sunday would be a leap. Here's betting New England's defense will be better the next time these teams see each other, and the mythical figure that torched them Sunday will be nowhere to be seen. 


Belichick still won't say Gordon trade is finished

File photo

Belichick still won't say Gordon trade is finished

The Patriots have announced the trade, and even pieced together an Instagram post of Tom Brady throwing to Josh Gordon. The Browns have announced the trade.

But none of that, apparently, is good enough for Bill Belichick:

And hypothetical questions on today's conference call about possibly bringing aboard a player with Gordon's baggage, and how that would work? Nope, not going there either.

At least offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels had a little something to say about a trade that everyone except Belichick acknowledges has been completed: