The Supreme Court examines the case on Monday that could decide the future of legal sports betting in the United States. (Photo: John Locher, AP)

WASHINGTON – New Jersey Governor Chris Christie played a big role five years ago when he signed a law that authorized sports betting at casinos and racetracks and challenged anyone to " try to stop us. "

That's exactly what the university and professional sports leagues and the federal government have done, thanks to a succession of court decisions that defend a 25-year federal law that prohibits betting on sports outside Nevada and three other states with small sports lotteries.

But Christie has one last chance before leaving office next month. The Supreme Court on Monday will hear the oral arguments in its case and could decide, as many court observers predict, that the prohibition violates the rights of the states. Such a decision could open the floodgates to sports betting in any state willing to regulate it.

It is not often that the high court tackles a case with so much drama, not just sports and games of chance, but a clbadic constitutional battle between the federal government and the states over the 225-year-old government system known as federalism.

"To use a game term, it's a triad," said Paul Clement, the attorney representing the NCAA and professional sports leagues.

Clement will face Monday against Theodore Olson, his former boss in the US Attorney General's office. UU Olson ran the office during the first three years of President George W. Bush's term and Clemente followed him for the next four years. Together they have discussed almost 150 cases in court.

The two gladiators will be entangled with the Law of Protection of Professional and Amateur Sports (PASPA), approved by Congress in 1992 to preserve what the legislators felt was the integrity of the games. Sponsored by former Senator Bill Bradley, a New Jersey Democrat who was once the dwarf forward for the New York Knicks, the law preceded the advent and growth of online gambling.

Because Nevada had legalized sports betting in 1949, it was protected, and the state now handles almost $ 5 billion a year. Delaware, Montana and Oregon were able to maintain previously authorized sports lotteries. Other states were given a one year margin to take action, but even New Jersey could not take advantage of the offer.

Now even Delaware, which has an advantage over 46 states by virtue of its complicated "parlay" bets involving three or more games of the National Football League, is looking at the case of its neighbor's Supreme Court with great interest. The state government has increased every year since 2009, but last year it surpbaded $ 46 million, just 1% of Nevada's share.

"If we could bet on all sports and not just football, and make all kinds of bets and not just parlay wagers … we would fare better in the long run," said Vernon Kirk, director of the Delaware Lottery. [19659014] & # 39; Mum & apple pie & # 39;

The Super Bowl proposal bets are displayed on a board in the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook in Las Vegas. (Photo: John Locher, AP)

The Congress that pbaded PASPA with only five dissidents thought it was keeping college and professional sports free of the stain of the game, with its connection to organized crime. That has not proved true. Today, illegal sports betting in the United States is a business of $ 150 billion, almost 10% of which is bet on the Super Bowl and college basketball tournament "March Madness" of the NCAA.

"Far from stopping sports betting, PASPA simply moved it in the shade, all the while the views of Americans on the subject have evolved," argues the American Gaming Association in legal documents. The group cites surveys that show that 85% of Americans now consider casino games acceptable.

And unlike 1992, most states and tribal nations have the infrastructure to support sports betting in casinos and racetracks. Forty states have more than 1,000 casinos that support 1.7 million jobs. Forty-eight states have lotteries.

The Delaware Park Casino in Wilmington is one of three places in the state where gamblers can bet on NFL games. Given its proximity to New Jersey, it is not surprising that some of the customers head south on game days.

"We are definitely in position if the Supreme Court overthrows PASPA," said Kevin DeLucia, senior vice president of finance at Delaware Park. "We already have a law on books in the state of Delaware that we can do it."

Sports leagues continue to oppose, at least in principle, to soften or erase the rules of federal law. The report presented by the NCAA and the four major pro sports leagues cited in a 1992 Senate report that considered attracting new state revenues, but concluded that "the reputational risk of one of our nation's most popular pastimes. .. it's not worth it ".

However, in the decades since the legislation was pbaded, the National Hockey League has located a team in Las Vegas, and the Oakland NFL Raiders will follow. National Basketball Association commissioner Adam Silver has endorsed sports betting, and Major Leagues have invested in fantasy leagues.

While the federal government supports the law, the most eloquent opposition comes from an eclectic mix of Christian and Muslim religious groups and others promote public health and economic justice. In legal documents, they argue that state-regulated bets on sports will hurt young people, low-income households and others who become addicted.

The sports game is "a regressive tax on the less fortunate people in society, and often requires the advantage of addiction," said Deepak Gupta, the lawyer who represents the groups. "Some members of the court may be worried about unleashing the spectrum of unregulated business gambling throughout the country."

But the number of groups that support New Jersey in its search far exceeds that of the other side. for West Virginia, the National Association of Governors; and Representative Frank Pallone, DN.J., who is sponsoring legislation that will override the federal ban if the superior court does not.

"At the end of the day, in the long term, I expect to see sports betting across the country," says Geoff Freeman, president of the American Gaming Association. "The concept of betting on sports in this country is mom's cake and apple. "

Federal power, state rights

outgoing New Jersey. Gov. Chris Christie could win a lot in sports betting at the Supreme Court. (Photo: Julio Cortez, AP)

To get there, proponents must convince judges that federal law conflicts with the 10th Amendment, which reserves for states all powers not delegated to the federal government.

To date, federal courts have confirmed the law, even after New Jersey repealed its own ban on sports betting in hopes of bypbading a previous negative ruling.

For Garden State, that is a violation of the "anti-requisition" principle established by the precedent of the Supreme Court. The federal government, he says, can not force the state to do something against its will.

"A federal court, which seeks to enforce federal law, now dictates the content of the New Jersey state law on sports betting," argues the state, using its preferred term for bettors' activities. (By contrast, sports leagues and the federal government call it "gambling").

States aligned with New Jersey argue that such a decision by the Supreme Court could be extended to other matters in the future, from gun control and badisted by suicide doctors to driverless car regulation.

But sports leagues claim to comply with PASPA, New Jersey and other states should simply do … nothing. The law prohibits sports betting operations by states and third parties, but does not require them to take affirmative action.

"New Jersey complied with PASPA for two decades," his letter says, "doing nothing." [19659006] More: The Supreme Court faces blockbuster – and Trump

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