The NFL, a target of the president’s Twitter ire over national anthem protests, is banding together with the administration to fight the outgoing governor in a case the high court will hear Monday.
It’s an unusual pairing in a case full of odd alignments and high stakes. New Jersey is seeking to overturn the 1992 federal law that bars single-game sports gambling in every state except Nevada. Should that effort succeed, other states could move quickly to grab part of the $150 billion the casino-backed American Gaming Association says is wagered illegally every year.
“The gold rush is ready to begin,” said Daniel Wallach, an expert on sports and gaming law at Becker & Poliakoff in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
New Jersey wagering advocates say legalization could revitalize Atlantic City, the gambling center where Trump once owned casinos. Among the most ardent proponents is Christie, whose support for Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign was part of an on-again, off-again relationship that almost resulted in a cabinet position.
The nation’s largest pro sports leagues and the National Collegiate Athletic Association are leading the fight against the state, even as some of them inch closer to embracing gambling themselves. National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver has said that Congress should let states authorize wagering, subject to strict regulation and technical safeguards.
“There is an obvious appetite among sports fans for a safe and legal way to wager on professional sporting events,” Silver wrote in the New York Times in 2014.
New Jersey has been trying to legalize sports gambling in its casinos for years, starting with a 2012 law that explicitly authorized wagering. Federal courts struck down that measure as violating the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sport Protection Act, or PASPA. That law says states other than Nevada may not “sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license or authorize by law or compact” a sports-gambling system.
New Jersey then took a less direct approach by exempting racetracks and Atlantic City casinos from its gambling prohibition but not explicitly authorizing wagering or setting up a new regulatory system. A Philadelphia-based federal appeals court voted 10-2 to strike down that law as well, siding with the leagues and the federal government, then controlled by the Obama administration.
In their appeal, Christie and other New Jersey officials point to Supreme Court decisions barring the federal government from “commandeering” a state’s regulatory power. New Jersey says those rulings, which invoke the Constitution’s 10th Amendment, mean the state can’t be required to maintain its prohibition on gambling.
“A federal court, purporting to enforce federal law, now is dictating the contents of New Jersey’s state law concerning sports wagering,” the state argued in court papers.
New Jersey says the state law’s opponents conceded during the first round of litigation that the state wouldn’t violate PASPA if it simply repealed its gambling prohibition.
But the leagues and Trump administration say that’s not what New Jersey did. They call the latest law a selective repeal that legalizes gambling only in highly regulated casinos and racetracks.
“New Jersey wishes to do what PASPA prohibits: to authorize sports gambling at its licensed casinos and racetracks,” Trump’s solicitor general, Noel Francisco, argued in court papers.
“Congress does not commandeer the states just because it limits their policy options,” the leagues argued.
The state’s contentions are likely to resonate with the court’s conservative wing, and the justices could divide along ideological lines. That happened in 1997, when the court struck down a requirement that local law enforcement agencies run background checks on would-be gun buyers. The vote was 5-4, with Anthony Kennedy, the court’s most frequent swing justice, in the majority.
The latest case is dividing conservative groups. Some are backing the state and aiming to rein in the federal government while others say state-sponsored sports gambling would lead to crime and threaten the well-being of children.
It’s also splitting top lawyers who served in the George W. Bush administration. Ted Olson, Bush’s first solicitor general, will argue for Christie. Paul Clement, Olson’s successor, will argue for the sports leagues. It will mark the first time the two have ever directly squared off in a Supreme Court argument.
The impact of a New Jersey victory would depend on how broadly the court rules. If the court simply upholds the state’s repeal, few states are likely to follow New Jersey’s lead, Wallach said.
But if the justices go further and throw out PASPA, 12 to 15 states might authorize sports betting by the end of 2018, he said. Mississippi and Connecticut have already passed legislation that would let them offer sports gambling almost immediately.
That would leave the leagues even more dependent on Congress to establish federal standards. “If New Jersey wins the case, particularly if the statute is declared unconstitutional, the leagues will lose a significant amount of leverage,” Wallach said. “Once the floodgates open up, it will be difficult to rein that in.”
The lead case is Christie v. NCAA, 16-476.
Armenian parliament adopts bill on gambling in the first reading
The Armenia National Assembly voted overwhelmingly to adopt the draft law on making amendments in the law on combating terrorism in the first reading at today’s sitting.
The parliament fully adopted the draft law on making amendments and supplements in the law on the “RA Investigative Committee” and the attached package of draft laws in the second reading with a vote of 85 for and 7 against.
The issue of adopting the draft law on making addendum to the Criminal Code initiated by MPs Karen Avagyan and Hrayr Tovmasyan in the second reading was also put up to voting.
The bill passed overwhelmingly the parliament’s second reading. In a speech ahead of the voting, Tsarukyan faction MP Naira Zohrabyan voiced the faction’s intention to support the bill in the second reading since the proposals submitted by the bloc over the measure had been accepted.
The Armenian parliament also overwhelmingly voted to adopt the draft law on making amendments and supplements in the law on energy and the attached bill package in the first reading.
The draft law on making amendments and supplements in the law on “Games of Chance, Online Games of Chance and Casinos” and the attached package passed the parliament’s first reading, receiving a total of 93 votes in favour.
The National Assembly also fully adopted the law on the Constitutional Court and the attached draft package in the second reading with 87 votes for and 7 against.
Play’n Go launches Mystery Joker 6000
Omni-channel slots specialist Play’n Go has reinvigorated the much-loved fruit slot in its latest title Mystery Joker 6000.
The three-wheel, five-payline game delivers the same classical symbols known to slots fans, with the introduction of the Joker symbol which triggers free spins and big wins on finding it.
When players land a Joker on a payline that runs across reels one and two, the third will re-spin while the rest are held, and if a third Joker is found, the innovative mystery wheel feature is triggered, potentially paying out up to 6000 times the current coin value.
Mystery Joker 6000 allows players to transfer winnings from the main game into the super meter mode, where bets cost double but wins even bigger, and with the mystery wheel even easier to find.
Landing three jokers randomly across the reels in the base game will pay out randomly up to 6000 times the coin value, with three on the one payline automatically awarding the full 6000 times to the player.
Significantly, super meter mode offers an RTP of over 100%, hugely attractive to players looking for consistent wins, and unique for what appears to be a traditional fruit slot.
Johan Törnqvist, chief executive officer of Play’n Go, said: “The traditional fruit slot has been a mainstay of the casino space for decades with players loving its simplicity and regular payouts.
“We’ve decided to add the Play’n Go creative touch to the classic and reinvigorate the genre for today’s player, and we’re sure they’ll enjoy Mystery Joker 6000’s much-improved gameplay.
“The Super Meter mode will offer players constant choice between big wins or potentially even greater ones should they feel lucky, particularly as the Mystery Wheel will come into play when finding just two Jokers.”
Mystery Joker 6000 marks Play’n Go’s final release of an award-winning year, which has seen it launch 60 new titles across various genres. It’s set to build on this in 2018, with a product roadmap in place that will see even more innovative and enjoyable slot releases.
Hard Rock details Maldives plan
The casino operator announced its plans to expand its portfolio in the Maldives.
Hard Rock International revealed yesterday its plans to expand its portfolio with Hard Rock Hotel Maldives and Hard Rock Cafe Maldives. The operator is set to participate in what will be the first integrated resort in the Maldives.
The facility that will be located within one of the Maldives’ largest lagoons, Emboodhoo Falhu, is expected to debut in October 2018. The first phase of the development includes a US$311 million investment that expected to boost tourism, and offer new services like hotels, entertainment and retails. Hard Rock Hotel Maldives is set to be part of the three resorts included in the project, and will include 178 guest rooms, family suites and beach villas.
Todd Hricko, senior vice president, head of global hotel development for Hard Rock, said: “Known for its vibrant culture, top-of-the-line luxury and some of the most breathtaking white-sand beaches in the world, Maldives is truly a slice of paradise and one of the world’s most desirable destinations. Traditionally regarded as being a popular honeymoon destination, we at Hard Rock are excited to work with the Singha Estate team to captivate multi-generational travelers, showcasing that the destination can cater to more than just newlyweds.”
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