This is The Mouthpiece, a guest contribution by Martin Owens. If you would like to submit a contribution please contact Bill Beatty for submission details. Thank you.
Part one: Why Legislators Need Horse Sense
The big problem with widely publicized Supreme Court decisions is that people insist on reading all sorts of things into the decision. Things that would be nice to have, but simply aren’t there.
The first thing to remember about the Supreme Court decision in Murphy v NCAA ,is that it did not, repeat NOT actually legalize sports betting throughout the United States, as some seem to be claiming. What the decision did is to remove a Federal obstacle to states legalizing sports betting, if they so wish. That bears repeating: if they so wish. No state has to license sports betting. State governments maintain their plenary power over gambling. English translation – state governments can do anything they like with, to, or about gambling, so long as they don’t actually violate established constitutional protections in doing so.
A National Betting Regime?
But the Justices were careful to leave open the possibility that the Federal government can at any time choose to promulgate a national gambling policy and regulatory structure. In which case, agen sbobet the Federal rules would take precedence over most if not all state rules on the subject. Such an arrangement would be very appealing to both domestic and foreign gaming operators, and overseas regulators as well. For it would mean only one set of rules to follow, rather than threading a path through the vagaries of dozens of different state laws.
And such Federal intervention is still possible. Sen. Orrin Hatch R-UT is already working on legislation that will put legalized sports betting under Washington’s supervision. Political handicappers hold out little hope that such a bill would pass this year, however. Control of the House of Representatives is at stake, with many races predicted to be close. No candidate is liable to risk bad PR over a bill about Wicked Gambling, one of the stock boogie-men of American political theater. Sports betting in very particular has a bad history. The scandal involving baseball players taking payoffs to throw the World Series is still vividly remembered, even though it took place all the way back in 1919. It is an article of faith among proponents of public virtue that gambling is corrosive to the purity of American sport, and needs to be tightly controlled where it cannot be forbidden altogether.
Nevertheless, the door has been opened. And any state that wishes to walk through will have to depend on its legislators to get it right. And that means a series of decisions on policy, logistics, and everything else related to sports betting will have to be made, mostly under very challenging circumstances.