Last week, football fans across the country committed a crime: they bet on the Super Bowl. Billions of dollars was wagered on the game, almost all of it staked by people who live in states where sports gambling is against the law. Like participating in an N.C.A.A. office pool, betting on the Super Bowl is an all-American pastime. But in most of the country it’s illegal.
New Jersey voters want to change that. In 2011, they overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state constitution making sports betting legal, and early last year the state legislature passed a law to that effect. Dennis Drazin, the lawyer who advises the Monmouth Park racetrack, announced plans to set up a sports book. There’s just one hitch: the federal government. In 1992, Congress passed a law banning sports betting everywhere in the U.S. except in the four states that already had some form of it (Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana).