Like Most Sports Controversies, the Supreme Court Gambling Case Is About Money and Control By Charles P. Pierce, Sports Illustrated December 5, 2017 at 4:38 pm WASHINGTON, D.C. — In the off moments when they weren’t shooting the King’s soldiers, dumping crates of tea into harbors and otherwise committing treason, the Founding Fathers were quite the bunch of gambling men. They all bet the ponies. (In The Daily Beast, author and historian Philip Smucker wrote about a horse race in which an entry owned by George Washington beat one owned by Thomas Jefferson.) They bet on cards and they bet on anything that moved, including fighting cocks, an extraordinarily grubby and bloody exercise that the landed gentry did not speak of among themselves, except when divvying up the evening’s process. It didn’t always work out well for them. James Madison’s stepson, John Payne Todd, gambled away not only his fortune, but his indulgent stepdad’s as well. Madison wound up having to mortgage the family estate to pay off his stepson’s debts. The Continental Army was kept afloat partly by a series of national lotteries. It is an essential part of the American character to make someone else’s money your money with as little physical labor as possible. So, when Washington superlawyer Ted Olson began his presentation before the Supreme Court of the United States by taking us all back to the fights over federal and state sovereignty, it was hard not to imagine the spirits of the Founders, laying odds on whether the state of New Jersey or the NCAA would win the case.