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Hold your bets: At least, for now

May 19. 2018 9:38PM

The U.S. Supreme Court has opened up a new front in the long-running gambling wars.

In Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, the court ruled that a federal statute limiting betting on sports was unconstitutional because it violated the 10th Amendment, which reserves for the states those powers not granted to the federal government.

The decision did leave Congress with authority to block bets across state lines.

The long-term implications of the court enforcing the 10th Amendment could be enormous, but in the short-term, it has set off a land rush of states moving to legalize sports betting.

Pro- and anti-gambling forces are already gearing up for a fight in New Hampshire. We are agnostic about legalizing sports betting, for now.

We remain opposed to opening casinos in New Hampshire, which would have negative social, cultural, and economic consequences, and would have entrenched the Legislature in the gambling business. Once approved, casinos would become a self-sustaining political power center.

We were skeptical of Keno, which seems to be a moderate success so far. Some communities wanted it. Some didn't.

We would have to see what form sports betting would take in New Hampshire. Would it involve lavish sports books, or people filling out betting slips next to the scratch tickets at the convenience store checkout?

Would New Hampshire authorize and regulate the bets, or run the operation through the Lottery Commission? Would we have to hire a state employee to track the line of the Packers' game if Aaron Rodgers were ruled out against the Bears?

How would New Hampshire and other states coordinate oversight of sports leagues across the country? Would people be allowed to place bets online?

There is no need for the Legislature to rush these decisions.

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