National Hockey League (NHL)

Monmouth Park Racetrack
Copyright: andykazie / 123RF Stock Photo

Today is a crucial day for New Jersey in its mission to legalize sports betting, as it will argue its position on the issue against attorneys for the four major American professional sports leagues and the NCAA this morning in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Attorney Theodore B. Olson, who represents New Jersey in this action, plans to argue that U.S. District Court Judge Michael Shipp erred in ruling that that New Jersey’s partial repeal of its prohibition against sports wagering violates the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (“PAPSA”).  New Jersey will likely also assert that the professional sports leagues have “unclean hands” due to their partnerships with fantasy sports websites.

While it is true that some sports leagues have recently embraced pay-fantasy sports websites, the leagues remain steadfast in their quest to thwart New Jersey’s legalization efforts.  They believe that PAPSA clearly prohibits the 46 states not exempted from the act’s application from legalizing sports betting in any fashion.

The Third Circuit has previously ruled in favor of the sports leagues, but the Court’s prior Opinion potentially provided the state with a loophole – it acknowledged that even under PAPSA, states have “much room . . . to make their own policy” and can establish their own parameters of sports betting prohibitions.  New Jersey will assuredly use that language in support of its argument today.

Led by Governor Chris Christie, New Jersey has been undeterred by many unfavorable court decisions in the two-plus years since the sports leagues initially sued to prevent the state from commencing sports betting.  While nearly all casinos and racetracks in New Jersey have seen revenues decrease each of the last few years, the state and its casino/racetrack owners believe that sports betting could reverse their fortunes and bring in millions of dollars yearly.

Whether the Third Circuit will continue to affirm the sports leagues’ position that PAPSA prevents New Jersey from having authority to legalize sports betting remains to be seen. What is certain is that today’s oral argument and the resulting decision is extremely crucial in determining the future of potential sports betting in New Jersey, in addition to many other states that may wish to follow its lead.

Monmouth Park Racetrack
Copyright: andykazie / 123RF Stock Photo

On Friday, Judge Michael Shipp granted the NCAA and four major professional sports leagues a permanent injunction to prevent New Jersey casinos and racetracks from offering sports betting.  The decision was unsurprising, but still extremely disappointing, to New Jersey state officials who have been attempting to establish legalized, regulated sports betting in the state for over three years.

New Jersey should, and it appears will, exercise any and all legal options it has in fighting to establish sports betting in the state.  State Senator Raymond Lesniak, the leader of New Jersey’s campaign to legalize sports betting, told ESPN on Friday that New Jersey would appeal Friday’s decision to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals this week.

Regardless of the outcome of the appeal, hopefully other leagues will follow the lead of National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver.  Eight days before Judge Shipp’s ruling, Silver, whose league ironically is a party fighting against sports betting in New Jersey, wrote a heavily-discussed op-ed in the New York Times calling for Congress to “adopt a federal framework that allows states to authorize betting on professional sports, subject to strict regulatory requirements and technological safeguards.”

Silver acknowledged that sports betting in the United States currently operates mainly through “illicit bookmaking operations and shady offshore websites.”  Why not legalize and regulate the industry so governments and legitimate businesses can be the beneficiaries instead of underground bookmakers and offshore websites?

If the NCAA and other professional sports leagues adopt Silver’s position, Congress would be more inclined to pass legislation revoking the outdated Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.  The benefits of an industry that will continue to thrive whether or not it is operating legally should shift from underground bookmakers and offshore businesses to governments and legitimate businesses.

By Jeffrey S. Kravitz, Esquire

The NHL just announced that all games are cancelled until the New Year. Like marriages, labor quarrels are very tough to analyze from the outside. What I do know is that hockey fans always poll up there with NASCAR fans as the most committed to their sport. What I also know is what Canadian author also noted (with a disclaimer as to his comments on French Canadians):

Canadians are actually the most tolerant of foreigners. Mordecai Riccler said "Canada is not so much a country as a holding tank filled with the disgruntled progeny of defeated peoples. French-Canadians consumed by self-pity; the descendants of Scots who fled the Duke of Cumberland; Irish, the famine; and Jews, the Black Hundreds. Then there are the peasants from Ukraine, Poland, Italy and Greece, convenient to grow wheat and dig out the ore and swing the hammers and run the restaurants, but otherwise to be kept in their place. Most of us are huddled tight to the border, looking into the candy store window, scared of the Americans on one side and of the bush on the other."

-Mordecai Richter

 

With all of the present political problems, I still wish that the President (under Taft-Hartley) and the Prime Minister could order them back to work. That would be reaching across the aisle as well as across the border.

 

 

By Jeffrey S. Kravitz

As featured in the Toronto Globe and Mail a Canadian company that sells 95% hockey chatchkes is suffering mightily by virtue of the hockey lockout. Does the NHL owe that person anything…no, because it is a commercial relationship and not a fiduciary one. What is a fiduciary? It is a person or institution that owes another the highest duty of good faith. Think a trustee or dare I say it, a lawyer. The law imposes superior obligations on such folks by virtue of the trust imposed in them. The NHL….likely nada. How could the vendor have protected himself?  He could have tried to put a clause in his license contract with the NHL that required them to pay him in the event of a strike or lockout (good luck). Perhaps he could have obtained business insurance that did the same thing. Or he could have diversified as stated in the article to Major League Baseball or the NBA. The lesson? As presidential advisor Bernard Baruch once remarked, "if you are going to put all of your eggs in one basket, watch the hell out of the basket."