Ban on Betting Overturned by Supreme Court

On Monday, May 14, the United States Supreme Court made a decision that struck down the federal sports-gambling ban. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of New Jersey, which challenged whether this ban was constitutional. Attorney Paul Cambria spoke to WGRZ about this ruling and what it could mean for gambling in New York State. The full interview can be found below and on the WGRZ website.

Support for the 10th Amendment

In 2013, Governor Cuomo and New York State legislators approved language that allows for betting on sporting events in the event that this federal ban were to be struck down in court. Now that this has happened, WGRZ reports that this could clear the way for sports betting in New York. “What the Supreme Court did was recognize that the states have independence,” Mr. Cambria explained. “The 10th Amendment says whatever powers aren’t directly given to Congress are reserved for states. So here, what happened is New Jersey repealed their anti-gambling law for sports and then there was an effort to enforce a federal regulatory law. And basically the Supreme Court said to the federal government, ‘you don’t have the power to tell state legislatures what to do.’”

Mr. Cambria went on to say that the federal government did not make gambling a crime. “What they did was they passed, basically, a regulatory set of rules prohibiting gambling,” he explained. What the Supreme Court has done, Mr. Cambria continued, is prohibit the federal government from forcing states to follow its regulations on this issue.

Restrictions on phone gambling

WGRZ asked Mr. Cambria if gambling in New York State will still be highly regulated and whether gambling on cell phones will be restricted.

“You can’t gamble on your phone legally anyway,” Mr. Cambria responded. “It’ll be up to the states to decide how they’re going to do that. I wouldn’t be surprised if, in years to come, there’s an app which allows you to gamble legally in these various states,” he continued.

Local impact

According to WGRZ, the four private casinos that are currently open in New York State will not be able to start taking bets immediately but they will be able to in the future. WGRZ asked Mr. Cambria if bets will also be accepted at places like Batavia Downs and the raceways. “That’s very possible,” Mr. Cambria responded. “The State is in that business. They’re the ones that run Batavia Downs.” Mr. Cambria went on to say that whether that clashes with the compact that has been made with the Senecas remains to be seen.

WGRZ then asked Mr. Cambria if people in Buffalo and Western New York will be able to bet on local teams. “Absolutely,” Mr. Cambria said. “I think it’ll be great. What you’ll see is just like Las Vegas, the big screens with all the sporting events and you’ll be able to bet on all of them. Let’s face it. People are betting now on sporting events but they’re doing it through bookies, who are obviously operating illegally.”

Legality of placing bets

Mr. Cambria went on to explain that “it’s not illegal to place a bet, even with a bookie. It’s illegal for the bookie to take the bet, but not for you, as a better, to bet.” The Caribbean websites that many people use to place their bets are also illegal, but Mr. Cambria reiterated that it is “not a crime to be a better.”

When asked if the athletes in various professional sports organizations will be able to place bets, Mr. Cambria responded that there are “regulations in the various leagues that prohibit that” because the athletes “can influence the outcome of the game. They’ll bet on the game and then throw the game. You can’t have that.”

About Paul J. Cambria, Jr.

The chair of Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area, Mr. Cambria advises clients on criminal trials, criminal appeals, constitutional and First Amendment law, zoning and land use, antitrust, and professional licensing defense. He divides his time between the firm’s offices in Buffalo and Los Angeles.