Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992

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Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992
Great Seal of the United States
Long title An Act to prohibit sports gambling under State law, and for other purposes.
Acronyms (colloquial) PASPA
Nicknames Bradley Act
Enacted by the 102nd United States Congress
Effective October 28, 1992
Public law 102-559
Statutes at Large 106 Stat. 4227
Titles amended 28 U.S.C.: Judiciary and Judicial Procedure
U.S.C. sections created 28 U.S.C. ch. 178 § 3701 et seq.
Legislative history

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (Pub.L. 102–559), also known as the Bradley Act, attempts to define the legal status of sports betting throughout the United States. This act effectively outlawed sports betting nationwide, excluding a few states.

The sports lotteries conducted in Oregon, Delaware, and Montana were exempt, as well as the licensed sports pools in Nevada. In addition, Congress provided a one-year window of opportunity from the effective date of PASPA (January 1, 1993) for states which operated licensed casino gaming for the previous ten-year period to pass laws permitting sports wagering. The latter exception was clearly crafted with New Jersey in mind. However, New Jersey failed to take advantage of this opportunity. Excluded from the reach of PASPA are jai alai and parimutuel horse and dog racing.


On June 26, 1991, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks held public hearings on sports gambling. It found "(s)ports gambling is a national problem. The harms it inflicts are felt beyond the borders of those States that sanction it." David Stern, commissioner for the National Basketball Association testified, "The interstate ramifications of sports betting are a compelling reason for federal legislation." In light of these findings, Congress exercised its authority under the Commerce Clause to enact Senate Bill 474 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 1992, codified at 28 U.S.C. § 3701. [1]

Legislative efforts against the act[edit]

In a widespread trend to legalize, regulate, and tax gambling to increase tax revenues, many states are trying to persuade the federal government to repeal PASPA.[citation needed] This effort has taken two forms: first to legislate in Washington for changes to PASPA, and second to introduce state laws that legalize sports betting knowing that they will trigger federal legal action.

New Jersey has been a leader, both in legislation and in the legal process, in support of the legalization of sports betting in New Jersey despite its original failure to take advantage of the carve out in the PASPA of 1992. The law is also known as the "Bradley Act", named for New Jersery Senator and former NBA star Bill Bradley. New Jersey voters in 2011 voted for a state constitutional amendment that would permit sports gambling. The next year, the NJ State Legislature enacted the Sports Wagering Act ("2012 Act"), allowing sports wagering at New Jersey casinos and racetracks.[2]

Legal challenges[edit]

Proponents of repeal typically assert that the law as written is inherently unconstitutional, as the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reserves to the states all rights not explicitly granted to the federal government—such as gambling regulation.

In March 2009, New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey claiming, among other things, that the PASPA unconstitutionally discriminated among the states by allowing four states to offer sports betting while disallowing the other forty-six states from enjoying the privilege. The case is pending before Magistrate Judge Torianne Bongiovanni. [needs update]

On Aug. 7, 2012, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball filed suit against New Jersey’s governor, director of the Division of Gaming Enforcement, and executive director of the Racing Commission after New Jersey amended its constitution.[3] This case, heard in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, found for the sports leagues, leaving PASPA in place.[4] New Jersey appealed the decision. On September 17, 2013, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, in a decision by Michael A. Shipp, found for the sports leagues, leaving PASPA in place.[5]

In August 2016, five sports leagues, including the National Collegiate Athletic Association, prevailed in an en banc decision of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that the earlier decision upholding PASPA was correct.[6] New Jersey has appealed this case to the Supreme Court of the United States.[7]

Recent developments[edit]

During the course of the presidential campaign, candidate Trump expressed his support for legalized sports betting.[8] Trump appointee, acting Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall, said New Jersey didn't have a case.[9]

In October 2016, former NBA Commissioner David Stern called for the repeal of PASPA, reversing his earlier testimony before the Senate.[10]

On June 27, 2017, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Christie v. NCAA,[11] and NJ Thoroughbred Horsemen v. NCAA.


  1. ^ Rodefer, Jeffrey (Mar 5, 2007). "Sports Protection Act". Retrieved July 24, 2017. 
  2. ^ Johnson, Brent (Oct 17, 2014). "Christie signs law allowing sports betting in N.J.". Star Ledger. Retrieved July 24, 2017. 
  3. ^ Heitner, Darren (Aug 7, 2012). "Constitutionality Of Sports Betting Prohibition At Issue In NCAA And Professional Leagues' Lawsuit Against New Jersey". Forbes. Retrieved July 24, 2017. 
  4. ^ Drape, Joe (Mar 27, 2013). "Cash-Hungry States Eye Sports Betting, to Leagues’ Dismay". New York Times. Retrieved July 24, 2017. 
  5. ^ "Appeals Court Upholds Constitutionality Of New Jersey Sports Betting Ban". USDOJ. Sep 17, 2013. Retrieved July 24, 2017. 
  6. ^ Johnson, Brent; Salant, Jonathan (Aug 9, 2016). "N.J. loses again in quest to bring sports betting to state". Star Ledger. Retrieved July 23, 2017. 
  7. ^ "Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association". SCOTUSblog. Retrieved July 26, 2017. 
  8. ^ Purdum, David (Nov 2, 2015). "Highlights from Donald Trump’s Interview on THE HERD WITH COLIN COWHERD". Fox Sports. Retrieved July 24, 2017. 
  9. ^ Johnson, Brent; Salant, Jonathan (May 26, 2017). "Trump administration says N.J. sports betting push should be dumped". Star Ledger. Retrieved July 24, 2017. 
  10. ^ Purdum, David (Sep 30, 2016). "Former NBA commissioner David Stern hopes to see legalized betting expand in U.S.". ESPN. Retrieved July 22, 2017. 
  11. ^ Johnson, Brent; Salant, Jonathan (June 28, 2017). "U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear N.J. sports betting case". Star Ledger. Retrieved July 22, 2017. 

External links[edit]