In May 2018, the United States Supreme Court paved the way for legalized sports betting throughout the country with its decision in Murphy vs. NCAA. (lf you aren’t into legal jargon, skip to the next paragraph.) The question before the Court was whether certain provisions of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) were unconstitutional. The question turned on whether the 10th Amendment’s anti-commandeering doctrine, as interpreted under New York vs. United States (1992) and Printz vs. United States (1997) applied to the federal ban on sports gaming. Under New York and Printz, “Congress may not simply ‘commandeer the legislative process of the States by directly compelling them to enact and enforce a federal regulatory program.” In a 6-3 decision authored by Justice Alito, the Supreme Court held that when a state fully or partially repeals old laws prohibiting sports gambling schemes, as the State of New Jersey did in enacting a 2014 law to legalize sports gaming, it “authorizes” those schemes under PASPA. The Court also explained that there was no meaningful difference between directing a state legislature to enact a new law or prohibiting a state legislature from doing so, and PASPA’s anti-authorization provision violated the anti-commandeering principle because it specifically mandated what a state could and could not do. The Court stated that complying with the anti-commandeering rule is important because it serves as one of the Constitution’s structural safeguards of liberty, advances political accountability, and prevents Congress from shifting regulatory costs to the states.
(Welcome back to those of you who don’t care about the legalese!) The Iowa Legislature has spent the first six weeks of the current general assembly considering various proposals for legalized sports betting. To sort all of this out, I contacted State Representative Jacob Bossman (Sioux City), who is a member of the State Government subcommittee currently considering the various proposals. He participated in a three-part interview, which I share below. We talked about the various proposals, the lobbyists from the professional sports leagues and other interest groups, the competing views among the elected officials, and lots of other stuff. Enjoy!