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Supreme Court will hear sports betting case

Supreme Court Building

New Jersey wants to legalize sports betting -- and will make its case before the Supreme Court, announced on June 27, 2017.

NEW YORK, New York — New Jersey wants to legalize gambling on sports — and will make its case before the Supreme Court.

The high court said Tuesday that it will take up the state’s challenge to a federal law that bans most states from legal sports betting. If New Jersey wins, analysts say it could open the door to legal betting in other states.

The court will hear the case during its next term, which begins in October.

New Jersey wants to overturn the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which banned sports gambling in all but four states, to various degrees: Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon.

Several major sports leagues are arguing that the law should be upheld, even though some executives, including NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, have recently either called for legal gambling or signaled they’re more open to it.

Governor Chris Christie hopes legal sports betting can help the New Jersey economy, particularly beleaguered Atlantic City casinos.

Lower courts ruled against him, and lawyers for the Trump administration urged the Supreme Court not to take up the appeal.

If New Jersey prevails, “it could and will open up the floodgates nationally for sports betting,” said Daniel Wallach, a lawyer with the firm Becker and Poliakoff who specializes in sports and gaming law and is not involved in the case.

He said at least eight states — Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and West Virginia — have already introduced bills that would legalize sports gambling if the 1992 law is repealed.

More states will probably prepare bills as the Supreme Court case goes forward, he said.

New Jersey has fought the major professional sports leagues for years over legal betting.

Voters there approved sports gambling in 2011. The NCAA, Major League Baseball, the NFL, the NBA and the NHL sued successfully to stop it. The state tried again with a law in 2014, and the leagues sued again. A federal appeals court upheld the federal ban last year.

The Supreme Court delayed its decision on whether to take the case until President Trump’s solicitor general could weigh in on behalf of the federal government.

Trump, who once owned casinos in Atlantic City, has previously said he favored the legalization of sports betting. But his administration still asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the case.