The Constitutional Case Against the Federal Sports Gambling Ban

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The Federal
ban on sports betting has been blasted by anyone who knows anything
about the subject for a number of different reasons. Though the
US professional leagues suggest that sports betting threatens the
integrity of their games, the opposite is the case. This is important
because there would still be no shortage of outlets for college
sport wagering, be it offshore or with your local illegal bookmaker.
The professional bookmaking industry is usually where any type of
compromised or fixed game is discovered. Ultimately, the true injustice
of banning sports betting lies in its contempt for the Constitution.

The Congress
of the United States has shown very little respect for the Constitution
in recent years. Were it to abide strictly by the role outlined
for it by the founding fathers, the Legislative Branch of our government
would have to relinquish any number of its powers in a variety of
areas. The primary problem with our Congress is that it has increasingly
become a collection of career politicians rather than a body representative
of its constituency. Every increase in power at the Federal level
must be brought about by a usurpation of state and local sovereignty
and, more alarmingly, personal liberty.

The Federal
prohibition of sports wagering which was enacted a few years back
is of very dubious Constitutionality. Were it not for the grandfather
clause, which allowed it to remain legal in jurisdictions in which
it already existed, it would have certainly been struck down as
unconstitutional on a number of different fronts. Ironically, the
Nevada gaming industry wasn’t too concerned at the passage of this
law; indeed, they certainly liked the fact that they could go about
business as usual while potential competition from other states
for the sports wagering dollar was completely curtailed.

Unfortunately,
the mere fact that a proposed law or initiative is unconstitutional
offers little protection for the citizenry. In fact, the concept
of state sovereignty is one of the most important – and most
abused – in the Constitution:

The powers
not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited
by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively,
or to the people.

The overriding
concern of the writers and framers of the Constitution was that
the personal liberty of the individual not be violated by a too-powerful
central government. In other words, unless the power in question
has been expressly given to the Federal government by the Constitution,
and/or unless it has expressly been prohibited to the states (as
in the case of treaty making) it is the right of each individual
state to govern themselves as they see fit. If an individual state
chooses not to regulate a certain activity, it is the right of each
individual citizen to make their own decision.

So, you should
be asking yourself at this point, where exactly does the Constitution
delegate to the Federal government the right to make policy on sports
gambling? The answer is that it doesn’t, and it is very questionable
that they have the Constitutional authority to do so.

Fortunately
for all freedom-loving Americans the founding fathers would beg
to differ.

Sports gambling
may seem a minimally important issue to some, but the erosion of
liberty is an incremental danger. The danger to broader concepts
of personal liberty may seem a million miles away, but with each
additional law intended to protect us from this or that the Federal
government becomes larger and more powerful and the rights of the
sovereign states “and the individuals that comprise them”
are shrinking and being weakened.

Reprinted
from the Tenth Amendment
Center
.

March
11, 2010

Ross
Everett is a freelance writer experienced in travel, poker and sports
handicapping
. He is a staff handicapper for Anatta Sports where
he is responsible for providing daily free
sports picks
. In his spare time he enjoys fine dining, fencing
and scuba diving. He lives in Southern Nevada with four dogs and
a pet coyote.

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