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US Supreme Court strikes down federal law prohibiting sports gambling (espn.com)
149 points by mark-ruwt 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 156 comments



From the ruling:

> Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own. Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not. PASPA “regulate[s] state governments’ regulation” of their citizens.... The Constitution gives Congress no such power.

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/16-476_dbfi.pdf

I don't quite understand what they're saying here...I guess the idea is that Congress can regulate gambling -- assuming some constitutional justification like the commerce clause -- but they can't restrict what laws states pass? (Of course, per drinking ages, they can tax states citizens and then release that tax money back to the states conditional on state s enacting certain laws.)

Here is extensive coverage on the excellent SCOTUSblog

http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/murphy-v-national...

Other HN submission (Bloomberg article):

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17065652


The main idea is that Congress can decide if it is legal or not, but to say it's illegal everywhere except for Nevada makes it a non-federal statute as they are arbitrarily deciding that some state gets an exception, making it non constitutional.

That is why it was stricken. If it said it was illegal everywhere, then the supreme court would have upheld that.


I don't think this is correct. As I read it, the issue was that, as others have said, the federal government attempted to regulate what laws a state could pass (which is related to a broader body of law about federal laws that compel states* to enact certain laws or to implement federal laws). Note, however, that this not to say that congress can't make its own laws and that, if it does, they would override state laws.

Maybe one way of summing this up that makes more sense of the distinction is this: Congress can make laws that regulate behavior as a general matter (subject to other constitutional restrictions), but cannot regulate directly the behavior of state governments themselves.

It's unusual for congress to do the former but not the latter, but that appears to have been the case here.


Why would Congress do this? Is it because there is some other constitutional requirement they would be in violation of if they just made it illegal at the federal level?


Expanding a bit on some of the reasons others have given, in this case I think it was also an attempt to grandfather a few states where sports betting was legal. There would have been obvious problems with banning sports betting in, e.g., every state but Nevada. But banning state legislatures from authorizing it (if it wasn't authorized already) seemed, perhaps, less problematic.

The classic problematic rationale, that the court discusses in cases like Printz [1] is also dislocation of the political costs of enforcement away from federal officials onto state officials.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Printz_v._United_States


1. There would be a backlash for outlawing it where it was already legal, and hence had an industry depending on it. In fact, there was an option to even legalize it in places so long as they did it within a year.

2. Enforcing it at the federal level costs money. It's easier to pass a ban where you force the states to pay the costs.


Yes, the Tenth Amendment reserves powers not explicitly given to the federal government to the states and the people. Local sports and poker betting is already regulated by the states and a federal interstate commerce claim to regulate it is fairly weak.


Pursuant to Gonzales v. Raich, which ruled that Congress could criminalize the production and use of homegrown marijuana for personal use, the interstate effect of gambling in any form on any activity is almost certainly sufficient for Congress to regulate or prohibit any or all gambling activity.

In addition, the Ninth Circuit has held that Congress has Commerce Clause authority to criminalize possession of homemade machine guns.

Congress has chosen to allow states to regulate gambling to a certain extent, which explains its legality in various forms in the various states.


> Why would Congress do this?

To transfer enforcement costs, including for hosting civil actions outside of the situations where state law claims get into federal court, to state law enforcement and courts.


> they are arbitrarily deciding that some state gets an exception, making it non constitutional. > ...That is why it was stricken

Do you have quote from the decision to support this? It seems to conflict with what I excerpted and the analysis I've seen.


It wasn't arbitrary. The states that had pre-existing laws kept them. The original decision prevented states from passing new laws to enable gambling, but didn't strike down or repeal existing laws, thus those states essentially got grandfathered in.

Media reports like to spin it as "sports gambling is illegal except in XYZ states", to make it look like favoritism and the story inciteful, but really the only thing distinguishing those states is legacy code.


I think you're disagreeing with raiyu, not me?


Your comment has no basis in fact. The decision has nothing to do with some type of equal protection for states and in no way addressed whether or not Congress even has the power to ban gambling everywhere.


When did that Constitutional interpretation change?

State-specific laws have an infamous history: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missouri_Compromise


It's right there in the beginning of the opinion:

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) makes it unlawful for a State or its subdivisions “to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize by law or compact . . . a lottery, sweepstakes, or other betting, gambling, or wagering scheme based . . . on” competitive sporting events, 28 U. S. C. §3702(1), and for “a person to sponsor, operate, advertise, or promote” those same gambling schemes if done “pursuant to the law or compact of a governmental entity,” §3702(2). But PASPA does not make sports gambling itself a federal crime. Instead, it allows the Attorney General, as well as professional and amateur sports organizations, to bring civil actions to enjoin violations.

That is, rather than say sports gambling shall be declared illegal, they made it a civil offense for a state to pass a law legalizing sports gambling.


To my lay reading, that law says "separation of gambling and state", akin to the First Amendment on religion. It doesn't ban gambling, it bans the states governments from getting involved in gambling. It seems that unregulated gambling is allowed (or would be, if not for other provisions that grandfathered the existing anti-gambling laws of every state?)

Either way, it looks pretty clearly unconstitutional, since it's making a "constitution-level" rule about how State governments operate.


Sure, but I was asking about the legal reasoning supporting the opinion, not just the facts of the case.


Looks down into the syllabus, I think you'll find 2.(a), 2.(b), and 2.(c) have the key components from their regard:

1) “Congress may not simply ‘commandeer the legislative process of the States by directly compelling them to enact and enforce a federal regulatory program.’”

and

2) "The distinction between compelling a State to enact legislation and prohibiting a State from enacting new laws is an empty one. The basic principle—that Congress cannot issue direct orders to state legislature—applies in either event."

3) "... since the Constitution “confers upon Congress the power to regulate individuals, not States,” ... "There is no way that the PASPA anti-authorization provision can be understood as a regulation of private actors. It does not confer any federal rights on private actors interested in conducting sports gambling operations or impose any federal restrictions on private actors."


Others have pointed out the drinking age situation.

My understanding of this case:

Congress can say ‘sports betting is illegal’, but they didn’t. They said ‘states much make sports betting illegal’. Congress doesn’t have the power to force states to pass laws, so the law is unconstitutional.

They could have done what they did in the alcohol situation (or many others) and said ‘if you don’t make sports betting illegal you don’t get law enforcement money from the feds’ or something like that.

That would have been (presumptively) constitutional. If the terms are too onerous the law could have been struck down.

But instead they used a power they clearly don’t have.

Interesting it survived this long.

Does anyone know why they didn’t just ban it directly instead of trying to make states do it? Was that the only way to give Nevada an exemption?


> Interesting it survived this long.

Not just interesting but discouraging, in my opinion. This unconstitutional rule affected billions of dollars of commerce for a quarter century. The legislators who passed it and the president who signed it (G.H.W. Bush) face no repercussions, so there's no disincentive for future law-makers to do similar things in the future.

I'm not sure I'd support something so extreme as having court review of unchallenged law, but it makes me consider it...


An easier and more robust solution is to have expiring laws. Laws require a 'refresh' 2, 4 and then each 8 years after they're passed. If at any point they do not receive the a majority vote, they're scrapped.

So many laws scrape through as the result of extreme "lobbying" and "productive donations". This investment of time and money is rewarded by the fact that once laws are passed they are extremely rarely overturned. Expiring laws would also help work against this sort of corruption. It would also help with things like the 'Patriot Act.' That bill was passed when the country was in a state of mindless panic, yet it lingers today. The government doesn't want to get rid of it since it massively expands their power, but at the same time - if they actually had to vote on it again, it would be extremely difficult to justify.

And finally it might make our legal code begin to be somewhat comprehensible. That you, without question, need to be a professional just to understand our legal code. And that even within that profession there are countless areas of expertise -- that is quite absurd. How can people be expected to obey (or critique) a system of law that they are in no way expected to have even the faintest grasp of, other than in the most broad meaningless strokes?


It would also help with things like the 'Patriot Act.' That bill was passed when the country was in a state of mindless panic, yet it lingers today. The government doesn't want to get rid of it since it massively expands their power, but at the same time - if they actually had to vote on it again, it would be extremely difficult to justify.

Is this some kind of sarcasm I'm not getting? PATRIOT Act in fact had expiring provisions, and government in fact did vote to extend it, three times actually.


Correct, this was a HUGE fight at the time, House Majority Leader Dick Armey fought his own party to include the expiring provision, and if memory serves some parts of the Patriot Act were not renewed.


I'm unclear on the specifics of the patriot act, and I think that's to be expected. The reason is that whatever provisions may or may not expire are then wrapped up in enormous new bills which expand some, modify others, and generally make everything absolutely incomprehensible while being packed up in a new goofy name like the 'Freedom Act.' The whole thing helps to obfuscate things beyond belief as opposed to having a simple yes/no vote on maintaining or scrapping a bill.


Making laws sunset (except, say, with a supermajority) is one of my favorite hypothetical amendments, but I think it's arguably even more revolutionary than court review of non-challenged laws...


> An easier and more robust solution is to have expiring laws. Laws require a 'refresh' 2, 4 and then each 8 years after they're passed. If at any point they do not receive the a majority vote, they're scrapped.

I guess the question this proposal raises is if congress would actually review the laws, or just blanket renew everything, except when they're exceptionally dysfunctional. If the renewal comes late, does it still count as a renewal or is a new law, starting at 2 years?


Interesting it survived this long.

NJ has been fighting this for almost 10 years. They were facing their biggest opposition from the sports leagues. It just goes to show the political sway the NFL, NCAA and MLB have over the government.


> It just goes to show the political sway the NFL, NCAA and MLB have over the government.

And the established gambling industry. They could have simply made sports betting illegal, instead of passing a law that enables current donors to continue doing it, but forces new e-businesses, frequently incorporated outside of the country, to stop.


> They could have done what they did in the alcohol situation (or many others) and said ‘if you don’t make sports betting illegal you don’t get law enforcement money from the feds’ or something like that.

I believe that there is a requirement that the money the Federal government threatens to withhold has to be for things related to the thing the Federal government wants the state to regulate.

The purported motivation for the Federal government wanting the drinking age to be 21 is to increase highway safety, so they can tie Federal highway funds to drinking age via highway safety.

This is also why most of the Federal aid cuts that the current administration threatened so-called "sanctuary" cities with did not worry the cities. Most of them were not in areas that could reasonably be tied to enforcing immigration law.

I would guess that most Federal law enforcement aid is for things sufficiently unrelated to sports gambling related crime that conditioning it on states changing sport betting laws would not fly.


> drinking ages

The federal government used a bit of a loophole here. Instead of regulating individual states, they simply set a drinking age of 21 as a requirement, else they'll lose 10 percent of their federal highway funds.


That always seemed wrong to me, isn't politics about the separation of powers, why do we allow them to exert control like that?


Congress has the power of controlling funding they choose to hand out, and this doesn't meet the test of being "irresistibly coercive" to states. And states really want that highway funding...


Wouldn't you expect to see some states to not comply then?

Interesting case law the above poster is referencing I think: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Dakota_v._Dole

Notably one of the dissenting judges said this: "establishment of a minimum drinking age of 21 is not sufficiently related to interstate highway construction to justify so conditioning funds appropriated for that purpose."

It did however pass the supreme court at 7-2.


> Wouldn't you expect to see some states to not comply then?

Not necessarily. Pretty much every state had to ask themselves the same question: "Do we care more about highway funding or the very small number of people 18-21 who vote?"

It's actually a very easy question in political calculus terms.


It's still clearly bad law, a ruling that's more based in the power politics of Legistative vs Judiciary, and Federal vs State, than it is about logic of Constitutional analysis.


> isn't politics about the separation of powers

No.

Our political system involves some specific separations of powers, but politics is not fundamentally about thst.


I think it's a fundamental principle, but definitely not the only one. For example it is also a monopoly on violence.


Because most people look the other way when it's something they agree with.


...hence the rest of my sentence? Or are you just clarifying for other people?


Purely clarifying. It's kind of a unique tax incentive for the states isn't it? I'm not sure of other legislation that works under the same principles.


Education law. The federal government is requiring states to comply with its mandates or lose funding.


Also Medicaid expansion.


Just highway funds have been used by the federal government to enforce two other rules on the states: speed limits and motorcycle helmets. There have been attempts to also make national no-texting-and-driving rules.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/07/four-ti...

Trump has tried to restrict federal funding to "sanctuary cities" as a way to coerce them into prosecuting illegal immigrants. It was struck down as not passing the South Dakota test, but he may try again.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/trump-executive-order-sanctuary...

The federal government also prohibits states from stopping federal funding of Planed Parenthood, which arguably cross-subsidizes (though does not directly fund) abortion.

https://qz.com/863101/title-x-obama-enacts-a-law-mandating-t...


>South Dakota test

What's this? Google just returns a bunch of results for the South Dakota DMV exam.


Sorry, that's not standard terminology, I just used it because the case was discussed elsewhere in the thread. See the 5-point test here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Dakota_v._Dole#Decision



> per drinking ages...

It is worth noting that alcohol regulations might be a bit of a special case. It not merely a federal crime but is unconstitutional for a corporation or individual to transport alcohol into a state in violation of the laws of that state.


Although it's true there are lingering effects from the repeal of prohibition, I don't believe the Supreme Court's ruling on the constitutionality of the national drinking age law drew on that. Rather, I think it was just the difference between directly dictating state law and making funds conditional on it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Dakota_v._Dole#Decision


while this is about anti-commandeering doctrine, I often wonder if they should revisit the expansion of the commerce clause that came about by the famous "stitch in time that saved nine".

To me, how case law enshrines coerced decisions in the court, is something that should be addressed.


>I don't quite understand what they're saying here

Basically that Congress is able to pass a federal law to prevent sports gambling but does not have the power to force states to pass and enforce state laws against sports gambling.

>but they can't restrict what laws states pass?

Restricing a state from passing a law is quite different from federally mandating a state to pass a law.


> Basically that Congress is able to pass a federal law to prevent sports gambling

It's not clear Congress has that power. The much more pertinent fact is that Congress can induce states to pass laws by withholding funding.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Dakota_v._Dole

> Restricting a state from passing a law is quite different from federally mandating a state to pass a law.

From the decision:

"The distinction between compelling a State to enact legislation and prohibiting a State from enacting new laws is an empty one. The basic principle—that Congress cannot issue direct orders to state legislature—applies in either event."


Essentially this is an extension of DCC principals. Where the state has power to regulate, but actively chooses not so to do, another government cannot usurp.

This is SCOTUS throwing down a gauntlet. Sports gambling, virtually all of which being online, is ripe for commerce clause regulation. Congress knows how it can take the reigns if it wants to. SCOTUS is saying it isn't going to accept half-hearted attempts to regulate in this area... in full knowledge that a serious legislative effort in this area is near-impossible in the current climate. This is the supreme court asserting itself, showing that with the legislature so weakened it can exercise control over national policies. imho.


You can always interpret any SCOTUS decision in terms of the specific and immediate outcomes, but it takes you to somewhat odd conclusions.

Like that a group of people who spent their entire academic and professional careers studying how subtle shifts in texts adjust balance of power, and how ambiguous rulemaking leads to unintended consequences have a deep and overwhelming interest in how people entertain themselves online.

If your business is making rules about rules, then you're going to see everything else as parochial, you're playing a game with slightly higher stakes.

It's like someone proposing a change in an instruction set and everyone's focused on possible impacts on UX for a handful of websites.


This isn't such a case. The court is not basing its opinion on immediate outcomes. This isn't like them declaring something constitutionally protected so that people can begin doing it the next day. This is them saying that governments are able to regulate, but only via means dictated by the court. This isn't about returning power to the people. This is about shifting power between various branches of government. Some of those branches are more hamstrung than others. By moving power to a branch that is unable to use it (ie a legislature chronically unable to pass laws) the court asserts its own power as kingmaker.


> with the legislature so weakened it can exercise control over national policies

> You can always interpret any SCOTUS decision in terms of ... immediate outcomes [but generally shouldn't]

> This isn't such a case. The court is not basing its opinion on immediate outcomes.

I think we agree? I must have completely misread your original post, where I thought you said that SCOTUS was making a policy decision.


> Like that a group of people who spent their entire academic and professional careers studying how subtle shifts in texts adjust balance of power

Uh, that's mostly not what judges spend their professional careers doing or what lawyers spend their academic careers doing.

It's what academic political scientists focussing on judicial and regulatory politics do, but that's not a background that tends to get you nominated for the Supreme Court.


> Uh, that's mostly not what judges spend their professional careers doing or what lawyers spend their academic careers doing.

I disagree, based on my academic experience preparing to be a lawyer and my nerdy conversations with my friends who are judges.

You could just learn the rote practice and skip jurisprudence entirely, but everyone on the supreme court understands the phrase "canon of construction" by this point in their career, along with various other meta-rulemaking principles.


> This is SCOTUS throwing down a gauntlet....This is the supreme court asserting itself,

In general, I don't find unified personifications of groups of disagreeing humans to be very illuminating. Do you have any evidence this particular ruling is a coordinated action by the justices of the Supreme Court to communicate anything beyond their explicit decision to anyone? Or are you just speculating?


You seriously think that the various branches of the US government aren't in a constant power struggle? Such conflict underpins the very American concept of checks and balances. As I said in another post: This isn't about allowing people to gamble or not. This is isn't even about deciding who has the power to regulate gambling as both levels of government can if they want. This is the court reminding everyone who gets to referee in this game.


Foxes (as a species) and hawks (as a species) are in a power struggle for who gets to eat the rabbits, but this does not mean that hawks are coordinating with each other to do anything, nor that the hawks are trying to communicate anything to the foxes even though information flows between them.


> I don't quite understand what they're saying here...I guess the idea is that Congress can regulate gambling -- assuming some constitutional justification like the commerce clause -- but they can't restrict what laws states pass?

The federal government can make it illegal for people to place sports bet or run a gambling ring, because it has authority and sovereignty over the people in the United States.

The federal government has rather wide authority. For example, Congress could make it illegal for American citizens to gamble in Canada (In the same way, it used to be illegal to do business with Cuba). However, Congress cannot pass a law saying that Canada cannot legalize gambling, because the government of the United States has no authority over the sovereign government of Canada.

Similarly, the federal government can make it illegal for its residents to gamble. However, it cannot exercise authority not directly given to it over the state governments, because the federal government has no authority over the sovereign state governments. The state governments and the feds share sovereignty over the boundaries of each state, but the state government retains all aspects of sovereignty not explicitly given to the feds. Gambling is one of those things that the states retain sovereignty over.


Your comment is completely untethered from any understanding of the Constitution and American federalist system. Authority and sovereignty in the U.S. flows upward from the people to the states and then to the federal government. The federal government likely cannot make it illegal to place a sports bet, which is why Congress was trying to commandeer the state governments to do it. Federal sovereignty is explicitly limited (particularly through the Bill of Rights) and not nearly as arbitrary and sweeping as you think it is. Even your sanctions example is wrong, the U.S. could not just make it illegal for Americans to gamble in Canada. Such a narrow provision would be unconstitutional, the federal government would have to demonstrate a national foreign policy reason (a legitimate function of the federal government) for it to pass such a law and have it survive court challenge.


> The federal government likely cannot make it illegal to place a sports bet

There is a much stronger interstate commerce clause claim for a very broad prohibition here (say, effecting any betting either on any competition involving an interstate or international sports league, or where the bet crosses state or national borders, or using regulated wire or broadcast communication channels) than for many things that have survived challenge the whole way through the Supreme Court, so while I recognize that many people have narrow personal interpretations of the Commerce Clause power, I don't think that is actually a real practical barrier here.


I agree but that's something fairly short of the total federal prohibition discussed on this thread. (The other federal angle, used against otherwise legal offshore betting, is banning bank processing). I also suspect this court is looking to limit the current near-limitless boundaries of the Commerce Clause.


> The federal government likely cannot make it illegal to place a sports bet

That is my personal interpretation of the constitution. But if you read the supreme court decision, the majority opinion states that they can.


According to the current Cuban Assets Control Regulations, it is still, in most cases and circumstances, against the law for Americans to spend money in Cuba without a special license issued by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).


Does anyone know if this means for general predication markets?

The only reasons I've found blockchain at all interesting is for the creation of combinatorial prediction markets. If gambling laws are getting lax enough in some states to allow centralized prediction markets, my interest will wane to zero.


Prediction markets are already legal in the USA.

https://iemweb.biz.uiowa.edu/ https://www.predictit.org/


That's not exactly accurate. The government has gone after and shut down prediction markets before. They made an agreement with PredictIt not to, but PredictIt's $850 limit was apparently a big factor in that.

I hadn't heard of IEM before. Not sure what's up with that.


IEM has received multiple no-action letters, and also has limits. So basically the same situation as PredictIt.


Every time I've looked deeply at blockchain I've seen something different.


Well... sports betting does exist legally in all sorts of places inside and outside the US.

$5bn in annual last vegas bets, for example. The global market is probably 50-100X larger. Is that a prediction market?


This is super interesting. Seems like the real ruling is that the federal government can’t compel states to implement/enforce non-federal laws. I wonder if that will affect things like the drinking age...


That's been litigated already. If I recall, the drinking age is tied to a state receiving federal money for its highways. And the Court has blessed the power of the federal government to condition the receipt of monies on the state enacting certain restrictions.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Minimum_Drinking_Age_...

Plus, it doesn't seem like America is politically interested in lowering the drinking age.


Except when it comes to Obamacare and Medicaid.


Same. States don't receive the money when not complied.


The ruling was that the Fed government can’t withhold all Medicaid funding if it wasn’t expanded.


The difference 100% of Medicaid vs 10% of highway funding.


Thus greensoap, the person I responded too, was wrong.


Right! Although, the precise holding in this case actually gets at the opposite (more unusual) situation.

It has already been established that the federal government can't compel states to enact laws or enforce federal ones. [1] (The "federal" drinking age is OK because, IIRC, it was not actually done through direct compulsion, but by conditioning the grant of federal highway funds.) The interesting thing in this case is that the Court has also concluded that the federal government can't forbid a state from enacting a law. Of course, the federal government can still enact its own laws (subject to the Constitution's usual limits on federal power), which would preempt state law. This was a weird case where the federal government tried to do the former but not the latter.

[1] For example, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Printz_v._United_States


For what it's worth, the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 was upheld by the Supreme Court in South Dakota v. Dole (1987), a case referenced extensively in the more recent NFIB v. Sebelius, the Obamacare challenge.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Dakota_v._Dole

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Federation_of_Indepen...


> Seems like the real ruling is that the federal government can’t compel states to implement/enforce non-federal laws. I wonder if that will affect things like the drinking age...

(IANAL).

IIRC, that's done by allowing states to set their own drinking age, but withholding federal funds for highways unless the drinking age is at least 21. So any state could set a lower drinking age, legally, but they'd be on the hook for making up the difference in funds from their own budget.

That said, the combination of this decision and the ACA ruling that the federal government couldn't withhold funds from non-participating states may provide ground for a challenge to that law.


What does IANAL stand for? I don’t dare to google for it at work.


I am not a lawyer


What stops states from deciding not to enforce a over 21 limit? They still would have the law on the books.


Nothing. In the same way that states like California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and others have legalized marijuana. Marijuana is still technically illegal, but the federal government has no authority to regulate commerce within the state, and there is no law that stops the flow of federal funds for states which legalize marijuana, in the way that there are laws withholding funding for states that legalize alcohol below 21 years old.


There is no technical force to states having a +21 y/o drinking age. AFAIK they "simply" lose a good chunk (currently 8%) of federal highway funding if the drinking age is <21, according to "The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984" [0]

[0]https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/23/158


Though, it should be pointed out that the federal government can't act completely arbitrarily if it decides to withhold funding. I don't know what the current state of the law is, but South Dakota v. Dole established a specific set of requirements:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Dakota_v._Dole


I think "21 = ok to drink" is ingrained enough in American culture that it's not going away. Only time will tell, though.


I think that's not the case.

Lots of adults were alive when that age limit was eighteen. A small handful were alive when it was prohibited entirely. US (still, despite recent politics) receives immigrants from around the world who have a very different culture with regard to alcohol consumption.


I certainly didn’t wait til I turned 21. Going to bars was a big part of the social scene at my university, and fake ids were quite common.


Ids are getting much harder to fake with REAL ID requirements, and a lot of jurisdictions are very tough on bars that serve to minors even if they had a fake id.

An easy way to deter fake ids that was pretty common even a decade ago was to have off duty cops checking ids, so that being discovered can result in jail time instead of just getting kicked out.

They even have apps now that can detect most fake ids.


And we take another step forward to the authoritarian police state; throwing people in jail for trying to do things that jailers did freely when they were younger, while boosting employment opportunities for the agents of the state to make their money by renting out the privilege of their authoritarian power.


Just to be clear, I'm not advocating anything I mentioned above. I am very much opposed to the practice of hiring off duty police officers to effectively rent the power of the state.


Fuck the drinking age, christ you people. This is the unraveling of the United States itself.


What? Why? Of all the things to point to as the downfall of the experiment, limiting access to something to a majority group of citizens doesn't seem to have been something important.

If you'd like to go on a crusade about prohibition or even access to drugs/controlled substances in general I might be obliged to saddle up with you, but this isn't the straw that is breaking the camels back IMHO


I could not care less about drugs and drinking access. As States Rights advocates advance, the Federal government looses its ability to maintain a consensus between the states. At some point, "United" will be an oxymoron.


FiveThirtyEight's non political year value just skyrocketed


It's not like sports betting wasn't already widely common across the United States. The only difference is that money (and taxes) will be going to US companies directly now instead of off-shore online gambling companies...


It was already common enough in the US, but it's downright rare compared to how common it is in the UK or other places where it's legal. Hull, Stoke, West Ham, and Manchester City come to mind -- all big soccer teams who have/had bookmakers emblazoned on their uniforms as the main sponsor.

I'm sure that if the US makes sports betting legal we'll see a huge influx of betting companies, apps, etc. Like you said, most of it was handled by foreign companies, but now they'll be able to advertise and grow in the US in earnest.


Sure, they totally haven't been wrong on predicting a countless number of major events in the past and still have credibility to spare /s


I am curious what that means for fantasy sports companies like DraftKings that ran into issues with gambling laws in the past.


It's super bad for them. The vast majority of people who play the daily fantasy sports would much rather just bet on the games themselves.


Huh? What’s stopping these companies from simply integrating new gambling features enabled by this decision into their existing product?


A patchwork regulatory framework. Take a look at what's going on with online poker. Any poker site that wants to operate in a state that allows it has to comply with that state's regulatory framework. One of the most notable things about this is that states generally only allow you to play players within your own state (I think some states may have compacts that allow inter-state play with other specific states). They may also require the company to be operating within the state itself. So, even if Draft Kings starts a normal bookmaking operation, they can't necessarily just offer those services to players in any state that allows it. A lot of it will depend on how states settle on their regulations.


I just got an email from DraftKings about how stoked they are to make betting through their app completely legal. So I think they are already planning to get it done.


This decision doesn't legalize sports betting. It allows the individual States to do so if they wish. DraftKings is (was?) operating under a loophole in Federal law that allows fantasy sports, and had, until now, the advantage of actual betting being illegal while "fantasy sports" were not.

Now that states can allow betting directly, they can do things like require a gaming license to operate, require a physical location, etc. Many may still prohibit online gambling. Federal law that prohibits online gambling can still also prevent straightforward betting over the Internet.


Nothing, assuming states pass laws legalizing sports wagering in which Draft Kings and the like operate.

The major problem I see is that while the current DK business model must be extremely profitable (just hosting contests that you don't have a stake in and taking a rake), running a sportsbook is an entirely different business. One that typically brings minimal profits and can sometimes bring enormous losses because now they are taking the action themselves. Sportsbooks are not typically profit centers for casinos but loss-leaders to bring in people to buy drinks and gamble on more profitable games.

I'm sure they must have been worried about this happening but probably will try and get out in front of it to become an online bookmaker. My own hot take is that this cannot be viewed as anything but a negative for them. I have to believe it would be very difficult to compete with huge casinos that can build their own platforms and bundle betting with their rewards programs. I also agree with the OP's assumption that most people currently using daily fantasy sites would much prefer to simply bet on games.


>One that typically brings minimal profits and can sometimes bring enormous losses because now they are taking the action themselves. Sportsbooks are not typically profit centers for casinos but loss-leaders to bring in people to buy drinks and gamble on more profitable games.

While this is true for places with competition among sportsbooks, like, say Nevada or the internet, it's not necessarily true for the states. If they start running a sportsbook (either themselves or, more likely, through a contractor) with a monopoly in their particular state, then they'll be able to charge more per-bet than they otherwise could. Instead of the standard 11:10 line, they could charge 12:10 or even 13:10 and they'd still get gobs of bettors wanted to put money down at the only legal game in town.


> loss-leaders

Is this actually the case? First I ever heard of sportsbetting being a loss-leader. Not disputing, just trying to learn more.


Is that true for the majority? While I don't play myself, it seems a part of the appeal of fantasy sports (at least football) is the drafting/management of your team.


There's traditional fantasy sports, which take place generally over the course of the season, and then there's daily fantasy, which takes place on a given day or weekend. The former is generally played among groups of friends, usually with money involved, but primarily as a recreational group activity. The latter is played primarily for the purpose of winning money against strangers on the internet. I've played both and while the actual draft event is my favorite part when playing in my league with friends, it's far less enjoyable for me in daily fantasy sports. Daily fantasy is technically a skill game, but it really feels like gambling.


I thought the primary purpose of daily draft games was to lose money to bots on the Internet (especially insiders at the gambling company itself).


Traditional fantasy sports, where you draft a team and manage them in a set league over a season or multiple seasons, is very different and will still exist because, as you say, it can be fun.

What DraftKings and FanDuel provide is basically a loophole in the federal law which made gambling via fantasy sports legal. You draft a new team every day, and gamble that your team will do better on that particular day than other people. It's kind of a pain in the butt to do, when what you really want is to just watch the games and root for one team...


Ah, thanks for the clarification. I didn't realize "daily fantasy" was a thing. That sounds like a PITA.


On the other hand, few US companies are positioned to so easily pivot into sports betting as quickly as FanDuel and DraftKings.


Maybe, but only if the states legalize online sports gambling, which, in my opinion, is unlikely anytime soon.

The state lottery agencies are far better positioned to start offering sports gambling, in-person, and will probably do so very quickly.


I just got an email from DraftKings about how stoked they are to make betting through their app completely legal. So I think they are already planning to get it done.


It will legalize DraftKings I believe on a state-by-state basis. This was a law I understand pushed by Nevada casino/bookmakers who wanted a monopoly on this to protect their profits.


There was already a federal exemption because of the way daily fantasy was constructed (it was considered a game of skill not tied to the win/loss of a sports team, since you had to pick individuals from different teams). However, several states made it illegal.


Yeah, with DFS (daily fantasy sports) you're even limited to x number of players from a given game, so that you're not effectively betting on the outcome of that game by selecting an entire team.

I never really understood how they got around the limitation with stuff like NASCAR, where you really are essentially betting on the outcome of a single race. Maybe it's like PGA where the tournament is the culmination of a set of matches or something.


They are taking advantage of the ruling and pivoting to straight sports betting. http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2018/05/fantasy_sport...


It's big for them. When you signed up for, and logged into DraftKings (or FanDuel) you would have to list your state/it would detect your state. I was never in a state that barred sports gambling, but I suspect it would block access if you were.


Alito wrote for the majority, joined by Thomas, Gorsuch, Roberts, Kagan and Kennedy.

Breyer dissented in part.

Ginsberg and Sotomayor dissented completely.


Link to the opinion?



The article is a bit light on details, but it sounds like this doesn't automatically legalize sports betting. Rather, it allows states to legalize it, which at least 20 states intend to do.


Everything is legal unless there's a law against it. States would not legalize gambling, they would repeal laws against it.


I'm guessing they will regulate it though. And of course demand their share of the revenue.


I don't know why you're being downvoted. Your statement is factually correct.


> I don't know why you're being downvoted. Your statement is factually correct.

I'm used to it. HN readers are very sensitive to tone. The downvotes come first and then the upvotes.


IANAL, but I'm not sure that's exactly true. As far as I know, in 49 states (not Louisiana), if there's not a law about it we fall back on some system based on english common law.


California falls back on Spanish civil law. The most obvious example of this is the fact spouses cannot hold property individually in California, except for a few (constitutionally protected) items.

In general, each sovereign jurisdiction will fall back on the legal system that was in place at the time the jurisdiction gained its sovereignty. For California, the ancestor state was Mexico, and thus Spain.

https://www.law.berkeley.edu/library/robbins/pdf/ca-legalher...

But to answer the larger question. Everything that is not specifically legislated against is legal. Some ancient laws may still hold, but most are probably going to be found unconstitutional. Although, there may be some exceptions that you could convince a court to enforce.


Well, state law could fall back on martian (with an "n") law. It doesn't matter. Laws exist to state the thing you cannot do. If there is no law against the thing, the thing's not illegal. Falling back on another system doesn't make it any less true that unless there's a law against a thing, you are free to do that thing. And I'd add that laws stating a thing must be done a certain way are simply excluding all other ways of doing a thing. And even if English Common Law fell back on some unspoken Viking Code, the entire body of law exists to state what is forbidden.


The English allow sports betting, don't they?


I think one thing not yet discussed much here is that state authorized gambling is generally akin to a regressive tax, that is the state gets the benefits of new funds, but mainly from the poor, not from the rich.


I know many rich people who love sports betting


Just curious: were there odds published ahead of time on whether the SCOTUS would strike down this law?


Ooooo, I hope the next federal law changes our countries name from "The United States of America" to "Russia"! P.S. please let's all stop supporting our government making more laws. They are shit at it, and we should have MORE freedom, not less. Then we can enjoy life and do stuff, ya know?


Will this have an impact on bringing back companies like Intrade?


Would this ruling potentially affect federal drug laws? I say this because some US states have chosen to legalize marijuana, despite it remaining illegal at the federal level. This seems like a similar kind of situation.


No, the Supreme Court didn't rule that Congress couldn't pass laws regarding the regulation of sports gambling and userp state laws. What they ruled is that Congress couldn't choose to not regulate an area and then tell states how they had to regulate the same area.

In the case of drug laws there are clear federal laws regulating drug trafficking, so this ruling does nothing to effect the status quo.


9,984,535


It's certainly an interesting judgement.. Whereas Congress can "regulate" and not at the same time. Long story short, it looks like more gambling is in.

And the longer view, is more people will be impoverished with more easy to obtain gambling. Sure, a few will win it big, and they will be flaunted out for the city/state/US to see. But on whole, more people will be harmed with this.

But I'm sure it shovels money around sufficiently, making the GDP look like it grew by a .1% Good 'ol "Parable of the Broken Window", at it again.


It's always a difficult balancing act between "We need to protect this large diverse group with a huge difference in opinions and actual behaviors" and "Liberty (TM)"

How about this: Gambling is legal, write your representatives about sponsoring a bill requiring X% of gains by casinos/bookies to be sent towards funding addiction recovery programs? Is it perfect? No. Is it something that will help? Yes.

Vice legislation is hard, but there's no proper morality in telling people, "no you idiot, I know better than you and you can't have this thing you want". (Unless those people are children, in which case no, they can't have this thing they want). Some people can occasionally do drugs, gamble, or visit a brothel. Some people can't. Saying that the percentage of people unable to handle access to their vice means that nobody should get it feels wrong to me.


I would also posit a large difference between gambling, and corporatized "we use teams of psychologists and best gamification we know" in conjunction with easy access to your money to deprive as many users as possible.

There are people who would and do gamble on anything. In the end, you can't stop them. You can only criminalize after the fact. But that's starkly very far away from bling-bling flashy casino, with weird 'ingame currency' to disconnect understanding of currency costs, and every game in the book to increase revenue.

And the commissioner report I linked to states only negatives on things like electronic gambling. They contribute nothing good, and many bad.


Gambling is fun.

>And the longer view, is more people will be impoverished with more easy to obtain gambling

As long as they are doing it out of their own choice it is nobody's business.


It absolutely is "somebody's business", when the state is either running it, or enabling it with heavy legislation.

Banning gambling outright is an obvious way to make gambling black market. But we can take commission reports like this ( https://govinfo.library.unt.edu/ngisc/reports/7.pdf ) and determine best practices how to minimise gambling's impact.

1. Commission recommends that states, tribal governments, and pari-mutuel facilities ban credit card cash advance machines and other devices activated by debit or credit cards from the immediate area where gambling takes place.

2. (State, local, tribal) they should recognize that, especially in economically depressed communities, casino gambling has demonstrated the ability to generate economic development through the creation of quality jobs.

3. (States, localities, tribal) should recognize that lotteries, Internet gambling, and non-casino electronic gambling devices do not create a concentration of good quality jobs and do not generate significant economic development. (Think of this as video slots in corners at gas stations)


Addiction affects the lives of everyone around the addict. Whether we're paying for it in taxes, or we're being attacked on the street.


Not exercising and getting fat also affects lives of everyone around the fat person, does that mean we should force individuals to exercise every day ?

Also it is much better if the addicts are identified early and quickly so that people could stay away from them and shun them instead of a woman figuring out her husband is an addict after the marriage. After gambling addiction next what sugar addiction or netflix addiction ?


Unless we move it into a class of things which include for example, public health or public safety, in general things that place a huge burden on a large number of individuals for the sake of a small number of individual beneficiaries. For example, we limit the claims that people can make for medicines, we don't require that individuals research every medicine that they take.

Maybe the danger of sports betting is so concealed that we can't expect that the bulk of consumers can realize that danger until they have already been hurt (I'm not making that claim.) Wouldn't you expect a government to regulate in that case?


Eh...no?

Addictions in general tend to breed other, more problematic crime. Nobody feels bad for a junkie who blows all their own money and privately ODs in the street. People get really freaked out when a junkie is robbing people in the street to pay for his fix.


> Nobody feels bad for a junkie who blows all their own money and privately ODs in the street.

Where did you hear this from?


The longer view is that if gambling should be illegal at the federal level then congress needs to pass a law making it illegal at the federal level.


I usually consider gambling a form of entertainment. By that note, it's no more impoverishing than anything else people blow their money on for their own amusement. Some people have a gambling problem and spend more than they can afford because they expect they'll win eventually, but unwise spending is hardly unique to gambling.


While I generally share your sentiment, there's plenty of evidence that gambling is addictive in nature. It's not just a matter of "unwise spending" for those addicted, in the same way an expensive hobby might be.




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