By: Ryan M. Rodenberg, Anastasios Kaburakis & John T. Holden

In 1992, Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), a statute designed to prevent the further spread of state-sponsored sports-wagering.[1] The statute’s language has the effect of granting a property right to sports leagues, implicating the Constitution’s Intellectual Property Clause.[2] The Intellectual Property Clause grants Congress the authority: “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”[3]

In 2012, Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Hockey League (NHL), and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) (collectively “Sports Leagues”) brought suit against New Jersey Governor Chris Christie seeking an injunction under PASPA to prevent the state from offering regulated sports-wagering.[4] The Department of Justice (DOJ) eventually joined the Sports Leagues as an intervenor.[5] The matter was appealed to the Third Circuit where a divided court ruled 2–1 in favor of the Sports Leagues.[6]

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[1]. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 3701–04 (2012). In 1999, the Supreme Court discussed PASPA briefly in Greater New Orleans Broadcasting. Ass’n, Inc. v. United States, 527 U.S. 173, 179–80 (1999).

[2]. U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 8; see also 28 U.S.C. §§ 3701–04.

[3]. U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 8.

[4]. See Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, Nat’l Collegiate Athletic Ass’n v. Christie, 926 F. Supp. 2d 551 (D.N.J. 2012) (No. 2:12-cv-04947), 2012 WL 3191255.

[5]. See David Purdum, Feds to Step in on New Jersey’s Effort to Legalize Sports Betting, The Sporting News (Jan. 22, 2013),

[6]. See Nat’l Collegiate Athletic Ass’n v. Governor of N.J., 730 F.3d 208 (3d Cir. 2013).



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