Something funny happened back in 2016 if you will cast your mind back a little. The title of this article should have clued you in a bit. November 8th was the day that Trump won the 2016 election race, and he was later sworn in on January 20, 2017, as our 45th president. And then something else funny happened in 2018, May to be exact. PASPA, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which effectively outlawed sports betting at the federal level, was overturned in the Supreme Court. Both of these two events were seen as long shots in the beginning, but both came through in the end. So, did Trump’s presidency have anything to do with PASPA being overturned? Let’s take a look at the evidence.
What was the path to PASPA being overturned?
It’s a complex story. See, over in New Jersey, the governor, Chris Christie, approved sports betting at tracks and casinos in the state, after a state referendum in 2011. The NBA, NHL, NFL, et. al. then sued under PASPA, saying that the state’s new sports betting laws were illegal under federal law.
Cue a bunch of back and forths and appeals. Time after time, the sporting bodies won.
Then, a flicker of hope. Based on dissenting opinions in the full Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Christie petitioned the Supreme Court in October 2016 to hear the case. The Supreme Court, by the way, is the final place you can appeal any legal case.
January 17, 2017. Keeping track? This is when the Supreme Court decides it will delay a decision over whether to hear the case or not – based on the new, incoming President’s Solicitor General’s brief to the new government.
In May, the Solicitor General says to the Supreme Court not to hear the case. However, it’s not a binding direction, and so, in June 2017, for whatever reason, the Supreme Court decides to hear the arguments anyway.
After hearing arguments in December 2017, finally, in May 2018, PASPA was overturned, with the Supreme Court ruling 6-3 that the Act violated the 10th Amendment in the Constitution.
Lo and behold, states are now able to determine whether they offer sports betting (either onsite or online), and states where you can play casino games with real money legally get another boost. Talk abounds of further online gambling options opening up among the states.
So, did the Trump presidency have anything to do with it?
Nope. The administration was against letting states do their own thing with sports betting. The Supreme Court just decided it was unconstitutional. Since it’s the final court of appeal, that was that. While the government may have been against it, there was no move to enact another federal law that would be more binding. Since there was previously plenty of money going to offshore operators instead – illegally – it makes sense to keep more funds in the state’s purses anyway.
On a more amusing and related note, though, the president did retweet an offshore, unregulated sportsbook operator in August 2019 about his odds about retaining the presidency in 2020 – which were positive of course.