November 26, 2016
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood made the right move when he backed a suit that seeks to overturn the federal ban on sports betting.
It doesn’t matter whether you are for or against sports betting, you should be against the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. That’s the federal law that over and over has prevented New Jersey from having sports betting.
New Jersey twice passed laws that would have legalized sports betting in the state. Twice, federal courts have shot those laws down. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 10-2 against the state in August, citing the act.
In October, the state took its case to the Supreme Court.
Earlier this month, Mississippi and four other states filed friends of the court briefs in support of New Jersey.
Congress passed the Sports Protection Act in 1992 to stop the spread of sports betting.
There is just one problem. It allowed sports betting to remain in the four states — Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana — that had sports betting laws.
And the act has been ineffective at stopping the spread of sports betting anyway.
It’s possible to make a sports bet right now if you don’t mind breaking the law. Apparently, a lot of gamblers don’t mind at all.
The American Gaming Association estimates that $145 billion in illegal bets were placed in the United States last year.
Others put the figure as high as $800 billion.
In Nevada, $4.2 billion was wagered legally on sports in 2015.
Earlier this month, a Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll found 48 percent of Americans favor getting rid of the federal prohibition while 39 percent would leave the law just as it is.
What’s driving the opposition?
The NFL, the NHL, the NBA, Major League Baseball and the NCAA.
They say it would irrevocably harm the sports by undermining the integrity of the games.
They don’t say why illegal sports betting, or Nevada sports betting for that matter, hasn’t harmed it.
The federal government has correctly left it up to the states to decide whether to allow casino gambling.
It should do the same for sports betting.
The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.