How New Jersey’s SCOTUS Case Effects The States

How New Jersey’s SCOTUS Case Effects The StatesThe state of New Jersey has been famously fighting for legalized sports betting for over five years now. This week, they were finally granted Cert. by the Supreme Court, and are expected to make oral arguments before SCOTUS either late this year or early in 2018. While every state will await the decision of the Court with varying levels of interest, there are eight states that will be more invested than the rest.

Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and West Virginia have all introduced sports betting legislation in one form or another in 2017. New Jersey did as well, but that legislation is known as the “nuclear” option, and now that they have their day in court, they’ll dismiss it from the legislative floor.

The actions of these states vary from preemptive to combative. Most states have chosen to introduce legislation that would only go into effect should federal law allow it. These states will be looking to SCOTUS to rule against PASPA so that they can begin enacting their own sports betting.

A couple of states, however, have decided to follow New Jersey’s route and create legislation that would go directly against PASPA and legalize sports betting now. These states will be watching how New Jersey presents their case. While they’ll be pulling for a ruling in favor of the State and against PASPA, if SCOTUS were to rule in favor of the federal ban, then these states would have a blueprint for their own cases.

So you see, SCOTUS’s decision to grant New Jersey’s petition is groundbreaking in different ways for different states. Below we take a look at the states that have taken action regarding sports betting in 2017.


Connecticut is one of the state’s leading the way for expanded gambling in the United States. It is within their iGaming bill that you will find the framework for legal sports betting in Connecticut. It directs the Department of Consumer Protection to create the guidelines by which legal sports betting could be offered in Connecticut, including laying out tax plans, consumer protection measures, and licensing qualifications. The bill passed Connecticut’s House at the 11th hour by a vote of 77-72 and was passed by the Senate later in the day. It has been sent to the Governor’s desk for signature and is expected to be signed into law by the end of the month.


Maryland legislators introduced a bill that would study and create licensing and age requirements for legal sports betting in the state. The bill, entitled “Gaming – Wagering on Sporting Events – Study and Implementation”, was first introduced in the House, where it was relegated to the House Ways and Means Committee.


Michigan lawmakers introduced an amendment to current gambling laws, HB 4060. The Amendment would allow anyone with a casino license in the state to accept wagers on any sporting events. The Amendment also instructed the state’s gaming control board to create a framework for sports betting guidelines. HB4060 was given a committee hearing, which is further than similar legislation got in 2015, but was never voted on. Michigan Representative Robert Kosowski, the bill’s sponsor, says he will continue to push for legal sports betting in the state. If passed, the bill would have directly challenged PASPA.

New York:

New York introduced legislation that would legalize sports betting in the state at racetracks, casinos, and off-track betting locations. The bill relegated all profits made from gambling to education, much like their lottery. It was introduced in the Senate as SB 1282, with a corresponding Assembly bill AB 5438, but never made it to a vote. Had the bill been enacted, it would have challenged PASPA in a similar manner to New Jersey’s Christie I case.


Oklahoma’s Legislation attempted to pass an expanded gambling bill this year. One stipulation of this bill would have allowed Native American Tribal casinos in the state to offer sports pools, should federal law permit it. The Amendment containing sports betting guidelines was struck from the bill prior to its passage, however.


Pennsylvania’s SB 750 and HB 519 contained guidelines to expand gambling in the state and to allow sports betting. HB 519 is the legislative bill made progress and was put to a vote, but has remained on the table as of June 19th. Pennsylvania’s legislation would not be a direct challenge to PASPA, but rather a preemptive move on the state’s part. It would enable the state to immediately enact sports betting at already existing gambling structures should federal law allow it. To date, Pennsylvania has not moved the bill forward out of the House.

South Carolina:

South Carolina introduced two bills, a Senate joint resolution 309, and House joint resolution 3102. Neither made it through committees, but the fact that a state like South Carolina, who has heavily restricted gambling within its borders, is pushing for legalized sports betting is a sign. Sponsors state that they will continue to push for expanded gambling in South Carolina.

West Virginia:

West Virginia would openly fight PASPA in a similar way to New Jersey. Their Solicitor General penned both Amicus Curiae briefs for New Jersey and has been working on sports betting legislation for some time. The bill, HB 2751, calls out PASPA for being unconstitutional, and proceeds to regulate sports wagering “notwithstanding federal prohibition”. It would give the WV lottery commission the ability to regulate and license sportsbooks. West Virginia is actually the most perfectly poised of all states to challenge PASPA should things not work out for New Jersey, because it enters into a different circuit court, putting the sports betting case under a completely new set of eyes.

New Jersey:

Prior to being granted cert, NJ Introduced the “nuclear” option. This would repeal all state laws preventing sports betting, essentially allowing anyone in the state to offer sports betting. This option has been talked about for a few years, as New Jersey struggled through court date after court date. Not likely to be enacted now that they have a Supreme Court hearing. Oral Arguments are expected in that case between October and April, with a decision coming no later than June 2018.

While not many states have been able to pass the legislation, the fact that there has been so much movement towards legalizing sports betting is a promising sign that the tides are changing across the US. Nearly 20% of the country has introduced sports betting legislation of some kind in 2017. With New Jersey now on SCOTUS’s docket, you should expect many more states to continue to pass similar legislation.

In the event that SCOTUS rules in favor of New Jersey, you should start seeing legislation that legalizes and regulates sports betting pop up in each of these sports betting states as well as a few more. You’ll also begin to see more casinos and expanded gambling bills. In the event that SCOTUS rules against New Jersey, expect at least one or two of these states to challenge PASPA and begin their own (albeit lengthy) court battles as early as next year. Regardless of the outcome of New Jersey’s, there will be a change in how sports betting is handled in the US very soon.