ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As legal experts predict the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn a ban on sports betting, a new report suggests it could take New Mexico a decade to get in on the multi-billion dollar action.
For five years, the State of New Jersey has been challenging a 25-year-old law, called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, that bans professional sports betting at casinos. It’s a case that’s reached the SCOTUS, and on Monday, justices appeared to be sympathetic to the Garden State’s argument that the law violates states’ rights.
The justices’ decision could ultimately set a precedent for all states.
Gov. Chris Christie told CNN should the SCOTUS repeal the law, it would be ready for sports betting in two weeks. However, a report done by Eilers & Krejcik Gaming predicts that New Mexico would take nearly a decade to catch up.
KRQE News 13 asked UNM Dean of Law School Alfred Mathewson to weigh in.
“You’re getting into a political question in terms of what the legislature would do, where the public is on this,” he said.
New Mexico has specific gambling laws. For example, it’s limited to tribal casinos, per tribal compacts, or ‘racinos’ — horse racetrack casinos. What’s more, Mathewson says, sports betting is illegal according to New Mexico statute.
“Whatever happens in this case with the Supreme court ruling wouldn’t change New Mexico law. You would have to have a legislative act to do so,” he said.
Nevada, most notably, and three other states are grandfathered into the 1992 law.
There’s a wide range of estimates on how much the market could bring in. Nationwide, it’s in the billions of dollars, so New Mexico could at least see millions more in new taxes.
“The idea that it could be a source of additional state revenue, given what’s been happening with state finances in New Mexico, it may be something that probably… a state legislator or two are thinking about it,” Mathewson said.
Opponents point to addiction, while major sports leagues argue it could threaten the integrity of games.
Mathewson says the New Jersey case is only regarding professional sports — not college. It also does not pertain to online sports gambling.
While the justices contemplate, a New Jersey congressman also plans to introduce a bill that would repeal the 1992 law, just in case.
A decision is expected by June at the latest.
Mathewson says the meat of the legal issue here, regarding whether the federal government is violating the 10th amendment’s ‘anti-commandeering’ principle, is a hot topic and has the potential to overlap in other high profile issues like marijuana legalization.