The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday in a case that could have a big impact on Nevada.
Christie vs. NCAA is about whether states other than Nevada and three others can have sports betting. It was brought by the state of New Jersey and it challenges a federal law that bars gambling on sports.
Tony Batt with GamblingCompliance said there are two arguments presented before the High Court.
The first is that the 1992 law banning sports betting in all but four states is unconstitutional.
"One of their principal argument is that it's unequal treatment of states, which is a violation of one of the guiding principals of the U.S. Constitution," Batt said.
New Jersey voters passed a referendum in 2011 to allow sports betting and the state has been fighting ever since to allow that ballot measure to be implemented.
Batt said many people were stunned that the Supreme Court actually took the case because it agrees to see only a tiny fraction of cases that are put before it.
The second argument is that the law is ineffective. The law is now 25 years old and outdated, opponents contend. Batt said sports betting has become more acceptable and popular since the law was first passed.
He believes even if the court rules in favor of the NCAA in the case it will not end the effort to allow legalized sports betting around the country.
"The American public seems to have a growing desire to be able to wager on games whether it's in the Supreme Court or if it's in Congress I think that's where we're headed," he said.
Those opposed to the idea are the sports leagues, especially the NCAA. The organization is concerned about college athletes being tempted to shave points in exchange for money from gamblers.
But, according to many court watchers and Batt, the way Monday's hearing went it looks like the court is buying New Jersey's argument more than that of the major sports leagues. If the justices strike down the law, 32 states would likely offer sports betting within five years.
"Some people are so giddy after yesterday's arguments they are saying 'we may have sports betting in New Jersey by March Madness," Batt said.
As far as the impact it could have on Nevada, Batt said it would end the state's virtual monopoly on sports betting but companies that are part of the American Gaming Association like MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment, which have gaming establishments in other parts of the country, support lifting the ban. But Batt said there are established bookmakers who want everything to stay the same.
"You have this kind of split in Nevada about whether or not the expansion of sports betting would be good for the people in Las Vegas and throughout the state," Batt said.
The Nevada Independent reports Congresswoman Dina Titus has requested Congress hold hearings on the issue.
The decision from the Supreme Court is expected in either March or April.
Tony Batt, GamblingCompliance
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