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on cases and developments in law and the legal system.
Should Sports Gambling be Legalized?
By Regina Salmons
Regina Salmons is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania studying English.
If you wanted to bet on sports (legally, that is) you would have to find your way to Nevada, Oregon, Delaware or Montana. These four states are exempt from the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), also known as the Bradley Act. The act was named thusly due to the efforts of Bill Bradley, a senator from New Jersey and former hall of fame basketball player for the New York Knicks, who was a main sponsor of the 1992 bill. . PASPA’s intention was to stop the spread of sports betting in the United States during a time when legalized casinos were rapidly emerging.  The four exempted states were grandfathered in.
There was a clause in PAPSA that allowed any state where legalized gambling had been present for at least ten years to apply for legalized sports gambling, of which New Jersey and Nevada were eligible to do so, being the only two states to have legalized casinos prior to 1989. However, New Jersey failed to do so, losing the opportunity to legalize sports betting.  It appears that New Jersey regrets that decision. In 2011, New Jersey asked voters if sports betting should become legal, to which 64% responded yes in a non-binding referendum.  The amendment permitted the New Jersey Legislature to legalize sports gambling at casinos (with the exception of college athletics) becoming law in 2012. However, immediately following the approval of the law, five sports leagues, including the NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB sued on the grounds that it violated PAPSA.
New Jersey did not argue or deny that the 2012 law had violated PASPA but instead argued that PASPA was unconstitutional due to the anti-commandeering doctrine, which prohibits the federal government from forcing state governments to enforce federal law.  Back to the drawing board, New Jersey then passed a bill in June of 2014, removing the regulatory aspects, which was still overturned in the district court.  New Jersey appealed for an en banc decision, in which the case is to be heard before all the judges of a court, not just a selected panel. A hearing is expected to be held in February of 2016 with a decision expected by the summertime.
If the law were to pass, many argue that it would “irreparably” corrupt sports in the United States. However, New Jersey isn’t the only state interested in legalizing sports gambling. Indiana, Minnesota, New York, South Carolina, and Texas have also introduced measures to legalize sports gambling. According to a survey done by the American Gaming Association, over 95 billion dollars will be bet during the 2015-16 NFL season, only two of which will be done legally in Nevada. 
Would legalizing gambling really further corrupt the sporting world, considering how large of a scale it exists on already? Would making it legal bring the corruption to an end, or merely elevate it? Would it be truly detrimental to the amateurism and professionalism we expect from elite American athletes? By allowing sports gambling, do we encourage a culture of negativity, and allow the loss of integrity?
Some argue that by allowing sports gambling to be government regulated, jobs would be created that could help boost New Jersey’s struggling economy. But would these jobs be worth the price? The five sports leagues who came together to oppose New Jersey certainly think so. The NCAA has already canceled several sporting events in the state, and has stated that it would not hesitate to bar New Jersey from hosting events in the future if sports gambling was to be allowed.  Arguments arise that with sports gambling, the temptation to fix or throw games would be introduced. Almost a hundred years since the infamous Black Sox scandal, we ask ourselves the same questions about our culture. What are we willing to gamble for the freedom to bet on sports?
 "Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act - PASPA - Online Gambling Sites." Online Gambling Sites. Accessed November 19, 2015. http://www.onlinegamblingsites.com/paspa/
 Accessed November 20, 2015. http://www2.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/144546p.pdf.
 Barrabi, Thomas. "Legalized Sports Gambling? Americans To Bet $95 Billion On NFL, College Football This Season, Mostly Illegally, Group Says." International Business Times. September 9, 2015. Accessed November 20, 2015. http://www.ibtimes.com/legalized-sports-gambling-americans-bet-95-billion-nfl-college-football-season-mostly-2089606.
 Drape, Joe. "Cash-Hungry States Eye Sports Betting, to Leagues’ Dismay." The New York Times. March 27, 2013. Accessed November 20, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/28/sports/more-states-look-to-get-in-the-sports-betting-game.html.
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The opinions and views expressed through this publication are the opinions of the designated authors and do not reflect the opinions or views of the Penn Undergraduate Law Journal, our staff, or our clients.
2/19/2019 02:58:56 pm
It's really interesting that sports betting is legal in Nevada because they were grandfathered into the Bradley Act due to having sports gambling for 10 years prior to the passing of the act. While I am not big into sports or understand the best way to bet on them, my cousin is. I wonder if I could have him place a bet for me when he is next in Las Vegas.
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