Nevada record sportsbook handle; California sports bet bill details; New Jersey reject DoJ’s PASPA argument

TAGs: California, Department of Justice, Nevada, New Jersey Online Gambling, PASPA, sports betting

new-jersey-nevada-california-sports-bettingNevada sportsbook handle in 2012 was a whopping $3.45b, a new state record. Figures released Friday by the state Gambling Control Board show Nevada’s 190 sportsbooks held 4.93% of wagers in 2012, resulting in a win total of $170m, up almost 21% over 2011 and the second best total behind 2006’s $191m. Despite taking a drubbing early in the NFL season, football win was up 54.4% to $68.5m on a hold of 4.37%. The run of favorites covering the spread did have an effect on parlay bets, with the win of $13.5m down nearly 23% over 2011. Basketball win fell 2% year-on-year to $47.9m on a hold of 4.91% and baseball win rose over 53% to $30.1m on a hold of 4.34%. Other sports contributed just over $10m in 2012, down 2.2%.

California would love to get in on some of that sweet sports betting action, which is why state Sen. Rod Wright has reintroduced Senate Bill 190 (read it here). The bill would authorize owners/operators of state-licensed gambling establishments, racetracks, racing associations, off-track betting facilities and federally recognized Indian tribes to accept wagers on sporting events provided said events neither take place in California nor involve a California college team, regardless of where the game is played (a similar clause is in the betting legislation New Jersey passed last January). Operators would be taxed at 7.5% of gross revenue and required to pay $3k annually into the state gambling addiction program fund. As with 2012’s version of SB 190, all California sports betting wagers would have to be made onsite.

SB 1390’s likelihood of passage will depend largely on the outcome of the legal suit attempting to block New Jersey’s passage of its sports betting legislation. Last week, the US Department of Justice weighed in with its arguments supporting the constitutionality of the federal prohibition against sports betting (PASPA), and today we heard the response from the Jersey shore.’s John Brennan obtained a copy of the response from state Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, who won the right to intervene in the case in December.

Oliver/Sweeney reject the DoJ’s argument that PASPA doesn’t violate the the 10th Amendment’s commandeering principles because PASPA doesn’t require New Jersey to take any action in order to be in compliance. Oliver/Sweeney believe PASPA “would expressly prohibit the Legislature from implementing its collective legislative judgment and the desire of New Jersey voters,” despite the fact that Congress lacks the power to “direct state governments to regulate or prohibit activities.” Oliver/Sweeney argue that the issue is not whether PASPA requires the state to take affirmative action, but “whether the federal law deprives states of their ability to choose how to govern.” To sum up, PASPA commands state legislatures “to govern in a particular way” and “a clearer example of commandeering is hard to imagine.”

The New Jersey Attorney General was next to weigh in, kicking thing off by referencing the DoJ filing’s predictable failure to mention the 1991 DoJ opinion that PASPA posed “federalism issues.” New Jersey suggests the present incarnation of the DoJ “now disregards its initial instinct. But those troubling ‘federalism issues’ have not disappeared.”

The AG then attempts what Brennan calls a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy by contrasting the DoJ’s arguments with those made by the professional sports leagues that originally filed the suit against New Jersey. The AG argues that the leagues recognized it would be “patently unconstitutional” if an interpretation of PASPA required states to implement the orders of Congress, which the AG argues is exactly the interpretation offered by the DoJ.

Attempting a little legal jujitsu, the AG quotes a separate case in which the DoJ argued that “constitutional problems exist” when Congress opts to address a national problem not by enacting a federal solution but by dictating “how the States regulate private conduct.” The AG also ridiculed PASPA’s stated aim of eradicating the evils of sports betting while simultaneously offering an exemption to Nevada, the jurisdiction “in which sports betting was most prevalent.”

The brief concludes by describing PASPA as “a very unusual statute” in that it sought to put a lid on sports betting by forcing 46 states to implement a non-betting policy while exempting other states entirely, with the only demonstrable result being a “massively greater” expansion of the underground sports betting market. “PASPA is an unconstitutional monument to the laws of unintended consequences.” Judge Michael Shipp will hear oral arguments in the case on Feb. 14.


views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of