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How a New Jersey sports betting case before the Supreme Court could impact Ohio

Posted at 6:36 AM, Dec 06, 2017

Two days after lawyers for the State of New Jersey argued states rights before the U.S. Supreme Court in their effort to overturn a 1992 Federal ban on sports betting, many legal analysts believe the court may rule in New Jersey's favor.

The ban applied to states that didn't have sports betting at the time. New Jersey was given a year to have voters approve sports betting but the effort never got out of committee in the New Jersey Assembly led by strong opposition from NJ U.S. Senator and NBA Hall of Famer Bill Bradley.

President Donald Trump, then a casino owner in Atlantic City argued at the time not allowing New Jersey residents to vote on it was a win for the bookies.

"It's vital to keeping your taxes low, it's vital to the senior citizens and it's vital to putting the bookies out of business," Trump said at the time.

The court could rule against New Jersey, in favor of the Garden State, in a way that opened the door for gambling only there or in their favor in a way that opened the door for sports betting in any state.

NJ Gov. Chris Christie has said the state would be able to get the first of their sports books up and running within two weeks of court approval. A ruling will come before the court recesses in June.

Several states including Pennsylvania have passed legislation that sets the framework for sports betting should the court issue an expanded ruling.

That particular piece of legislation is of note for Ohio because when state voters approved casino gambling in 2009 the referendum included the wording that would "permit approved types of casino gaming authorized by Michigan, West Virginia, Indiana and Pennsylvania as of January 1, 2009 or games subsequently authorized by those states."

A spokesperson for the Ohio Casino Control Commission tells News 5 they believe because sports betting is not a table game or slot it would need legislative and commission approval. The spokesperson said they are continuing to monitor the court's actions but at this point, they have not begun the process of looking into what it would take to put in place the guidelines and regulations needed to govern how sports betting would be implemented.

A battle over who gets to approve and offer sports betting will likely end up in court given the history between those involved in this industry.

The 2009 referendum bypassed the Ohio legislature, which had long frowned upon casino gambling, comfortable with the likelihood it would be defeated at the polls like so many previous attempts. The Issue 3 effort that year though led by Dan Gilbert and Penn National met with voter approval and, as a result, the state was left out when it came to who benefited from the taxes the casinos would generate.

An effort in 2011 by the new Kasich Administration to attempt to impose the state's Commercial Activity (CAT) Tax on all bets wagered at the four proposed casinos led to Gilbert shutting down construction on his Cleveland casino. A compromise was later reached that saw the state get a little more money up front and the ability to place video lottery terminals in the state's seven horse racing tracks.