Supporters of regulated US sports betting are feeling optimistic after attorneys on both sides of the controversial issue presented oral arguments in front of the US Supreme Court yesterday.

The hearing was a fairly dry affair with attorneys from the Department of Justice; the State of New Jersey; and the four major professional sports leagues, presenting arguments about how much control the Federal government should have over the regulation of business at the state level. The Justices asked plenty of questions that seemed to indicate a slight bias towards overturning the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PAPSA), which froze the US sports betting market in the form it took in 1992.

Attorneys for the State of New Jersey argued that PAPSA unfairly infringes on the states’ ability to govern themselves. Even worse, in its current form, PAPSA places the burden of enforcing those laws on the states and not the Feds.

Some Justices, including Justice Kennedy, seemed sympathetic to the States’ arguments. During the hearing he pointed out that residents of a particular state really have no idea whether the ban is coming from the state or the feds and that creates a problem.

Outside the courtroom, disgraced former NJ Governor Chris Christie pointed out that New Jersey was ready for a favorable Supreme Court ruling and could have its sports betting industry up and running within two weeks of the Court’s decision.

After the oral arguments, the Justices will consider the case and hand down a ruling. The earliest day that ruling could come down is January 22. The Super Bowl, one of the biggest days for both regulated and unregulated US sports betting falls on February 4 this year.

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