That revelation came as the AGA — which is pushing for an end to the federal prohibition on sports wagering — filed its own amicus brief in the NJ sports betting case. New Jersey is fighting to legalize sports betting within its borders.
A victory in the case for New Jersey raises the prospect that other states could legalize sports gambling, if they so choose.
The filing, led by the attorney general of West Virginia, represents a massive uptick in state interest in the case. Just four states joined WV when the case was in front of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
What we know about the WV sports betting brief
Here’s what AGA President and CEO Geoff Freeman revealed about the filing from the states in a press call, which is separate from its own:
Eighteen other states have joined West Virginia in filing a separate amicus brief to the US Supreme Court. This group of bipartisan states includes representation from every corner of the country, from states with and without gaming and includes signees from state AG’s offices, as well as governors’ offices.
It also includes the president of the National Association of AGs, both co-chairs of the NAAG gaming committee, and chair of the Conference of Western Attorneys General.
Notably, it also includes the state of Utah, a state that does not have gambling, and is encouraging the federal government to get out of the way.
Which states are involved?
As more information on the WV brief came to light, it turned out there were a total of 20 states involved. AGs from these states signed:
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
And these governors:
- North Dakota (AG also signed)
The states’ argument
While Legal Sports Report has not yet seen the brief, the argument is likely to be much the same as seen in the lower courts. Namely, the ban on sports wager (PASPA) violates states’ rights by forcing them to act against their wishes and is therefore unconstitutional:
Here’s what the brief led by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said in the Third Circuit:
The concern of Amici States—the States of West Virginia, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Wisconsin—is not what Congress regulates but how it does so. Even where it has Article I authority to act, Congress may not force the States to act as the vehicle for implementing federal policy and thereby shift to the States political accountability for its actions. Such coercion is unconstitutional commandeering.
That explains the interest of Utah. That state, and others, are more interested in the federalism and commandeering aspects of the case than sports betting as a narrow issue.
The AGA on the NJ sports betting case
The AGA also filed its amicus brief in support of New Jersey. From the brief:
“Regulation of sports betting needs to be accomplished in a sensible manner that promotes, rather than thwarts, the strictures and principles of federalism. PASPA has thus had the perverse effect of pushing an enormous market underground by way of federal decree while stamping out state and local efforts to adapt their own laws pursuant to their own citizens’ wishes.”
The AGA has pushed for a repeal of PASPA, which would allow states and tribal governments to pursue legal sports betting.
The briefs so far in NJ sports betting case
- Gov. Chris Christie (representing the state of New Jersey)
- NJ Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (a defendant and appellant alongside the state)
- Pacific Legal Foundation et al (amicus brief)
- Sports law expert Ryan Rodenberg (amicus brief)
- Sports law expert John Holden (amicus brief)
- American Gaming Association (amicus brief)
- European Sports Security Association et al (amicus brief)
- Rep. Frank Pallone (amicus brief)
- West Virginia et al (amicus brief)