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Noah Feldman

Sports Gambling Law Is Unfair to New Jersey

But the federal courts have yet to see it that way.
Why should Nevada have all the fun?

Why should Nevada have all the fun?

Photographer: Glenn Pinkerton/Las Vegas News Bureau via Getty Images

The New Jersey public, not to mention Governor Chris Christie, wants to reinstate sports gambling in Atlantic City in the hopes of reversing the trajectory of a place that “totally cratered,” as Donald Trump memorably put it in the first Republican presidential debate. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit has said no -- twice. The most recent decision struck down a state law that repealed the ban on sports gambling in Atlantic City while keeping it in place elsewhere in the state. The deciding vote came from Trump’s sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, who didn’t recuse herself, presumably because she has no stake in Atlantic City properties.

The basis for the appeals court’s decision is a federal law with the unfortunate nickname “Paspa,” which stands for the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. As an interpretation of Paspa, the court’s decision is arguably correct. But Paspa itself seems unconstitutional to me -- notwithstanding that the 3rd Circuit upheld it in 2013 and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.