Though legal sports betting is prohibited in the US by Federal law, there has been in recent years a re-examination of its logic on a variety of levels. Part of this is a desire for new revenue sources, while part is simply a growing acceptance of gambling in all forms. Ultimately, the true injustice of banning sports betting lies in its contempt for the Constitution.
Unfortunately, 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. As a result, the overriding concern of the average Senator or Congressman is increasing the power that he is able to wield, and as a result the power that his body is able to bring to bear. Most problematic for you and I, 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 wasnt 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.
The mere fact that a proposed law or initiative is unconstitutional offers no protection for the citizenry. If a politician can suggest that a law is for ‘the children’ many will swallow the bait hook line and sinker. In many cases such prohibitive legislation contradicts one of the most important concepts in the Constitution–that of the right to sovereignty and self-determination of the individual states:
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 doesnt, and it is very questionable that they have the Constitutional authority to do so. The sanctimonious blowhards who oppose sports betting would like to think they know best, but fortunately for all freedom loving Americans the founding fathers would beg to differ.
The entire premise of a social contract between a government and the governed is that individuals give up a certain degree of personal liberty for a certain degree of protection. The problem is that too many Americans are willing to give up just about any freedom for even the illusory promise of protection. If theyre not personally willing to cede this freedom, theyre often indifferent or unconcerned about it. 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.
Latest posts by Ross Everett (see all)
- How Banning Sports Betting Undermines The Constitution - November 18, 2010
- The Constitutional Case Against The Federal Sports Gambling Ban - March 10, 2010