The Supreme Court is expected to clear the way for sports gambling across the country, and the Bay State casino industry is keeping an eye on what could be a game-changing decision.
“We at Wynn Boston Harbor are watching the court case with interest,” Robert DeSalvio, president of Wynn’s upcoming Everett casino, said in a statement. “Our industry supports legalized and regulated sports betting but the ultimate decision rests with the courts, state and federal lawmakers and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is challenging the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act — a federal law that forbids states, except Nevada, from allowing sports gambling. The argument is that the law is unconstitutional because it forces states to do the work of the federal government when it comes to the betting ban.
If New Jersey earns an expected victory and the federal law is shot down, it would let states across the country allow sports gambling.
“If it were struck down, each state would be allowed to authorize sports betting on a state-by-state basis,” said Mark Hichar, a gaming law attorney practicing in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. “Certainly, the casinos that are licensed in Massachusetts would want sports books. They bring in traffic.”
On Thursday, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is expected to discuss the high court case and “part of that conversation will be a report on the arguments before the Supreme Court, as the Commission decides next steps,” according to spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll.
“We are following any developments closely,” she said. “The Commission has not taken an official position.”
When asked whether Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office was monitoring the case, a spokeswoman said: “Fair to say we are aware of this case.”
Healey was not one of the 18 attorneys general to line up in support of New Jersey in a brief filed in September.
Some states, including Connecticut, are already prepared for a New Jersey victory. The Nutmeg State recently passed a bill instructing state officials to adopt rules “to regulate wagering on sporting events to the extent permitted by state and federal law.”
Massachusetts could catch up quickly.
“Massachusetts is going to be one of the first movers to take advantage of this decision,” said Daniel Wallach, a sports law attorney who was at the Supreme Court following the case. “You could have Massachusetts enter the fray by the end of the summer.”
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