Will gay marriage court fight influence New Jersey PASPA appeal?

TAGs: California, New Jersey Online Gambling, PASPA, sports betting

new-jersey-sports-betting-marriage-equalityThe California state Senate Governmental Organization Committee has set an April 23 date for a hearing on Senate Bill 190 (read the bill text here), state Sen. Rod Wright’s 2013 version of the SB 1390 sports betting legislation he introduced in 2012. Wright’s previous effort made it through the Senate last summer with nary a peep of protest, only to have the state Assembly Appropriations Committee unceremoniously shelve the bill in August.

It’s worth noting that the sports betting bill already has a committee date, while there are as yet no hearings scheduled on California’s two competing online poker bills (and a third bill is reportedly being prepared behind the scenes as we speak). Perhaps that’s because, unlike online poker, none of California’s gaming concerns really believe they have a proprietary claim on sports betting. But it’s also a tacit admission that California can pass all the sports betting legislation it wants, but nothing will ever come of it until the courts get through considering New Jersey’s challenge of the PASPA federal anti-sports betting prohibition.

On Thursday, New Jersey officially began their appeal of the permanent injunction granted by US District Court Judge Michael Shipp preventing the state from proceeding with its plans to offer single game sports betting to state residents. On Feb. 28, Shipp issued the injunction on behalf of the four major North American professional sports leagues, the NCAA and the US Department of Justice, which had joined forces to block New Jersey’s sports betting ambitions. New Jersey had argued that PASPA’s edicts were unconstitutional but Shipp ruled they’d failed to prove their point (although his ruling essentially suggested these were matters for higher courts to consider).

New Jersey and its horseracing allies have since filed a joint motion to expedite the matter to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. The 13-page filing asks the Court to establish the following timelines: once the Court grants the motion, New Jersey would have 24 days to turn in their brief. The sports leagues and the DoJ would then have 17 days to file their response, after which the state would have 10 days to file their reply brief.’s John Brennan reports that the Leagues and the DoJ aren’t opposed to the motion to expedite, although they’re quibbling with having fewer than 30 days to file their response.

In December, a Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll revealed that 51% of registered voters surveyed were in favor of legalized sports betting. That was up from 39% just nine months earlier. A July 2012 Field Poll in California revealed that 58% of registered voters surveyed were in favor of legal sports betting – decidedly more than supported legal online poker, for what it’s worth.

It’s interesting to note that the US Supreme Court is currently weighing the constitutionality of California’s ban on same-sex marriages. In 1977, a Field Poll of California voters found 28% approval for same-sex marriage. In 2010, the same poll found 51% approval. In the most recent poll published in February, support was up to 61%. The Supremes aren’t beholden to public opinion polls, but clearly, the public is increasingly comfortable with the notion that if two people love each other, the government has no business deciding whether or not they can get married.

The standard objection to gay marriage, namely, that it would undermine the sanctity of ‘traditional’ marriage, is now recognized as the nonsensical tripe it always was. In time, the argument that betting harms the ‘integrity’ of sports will be considered equally hollow. One can only hope that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ultimately decides it doesn’t want to be on the ‘wrong side of history’ re sports betting.


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