Sports Gambling Remains Illegal in NJ

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Governor Chris Christie’s plans to legalize sports gambling in New Jersey suffered another setback on Tuesday. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an earlier ruling, in effect keeping sports betting illegal in the state.

The state’s next move remains unclear. Because only three judges heard the state’s case, New Jersey can appeal the case before the full court. However, it is more probable that the state will appeal to the Supreme Court. Indeed, Christie has previously vowed to take the case to the Supreme Court if need be.

The case stems from an effort to legalize sports gambling in specific locations in New Jersey. A referendum passed by voters in 2011 affirmed support for sports bets. Following that referendum, New Jersey lawmakers passed a law which allowed sports betting at horse race tracks and casinos in Atlantic City. The bill allowed betting on most NCAA games while banning bets on New Jersey universities or NCAA matches taking place in state. The state originally planned to begin dispensing licenses allowing sports betting by the beginning of 2013, but legal challenges have prevented this.

Following the passage of the sports betting bill, a consortium of sporting organizations including the NCAA, MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL sued New Jersey. The leagues argued that legalized sports betting may taint the games, leading to game fixing and other problems. The NCAA reacted to the sports betting bill by changing the locations of some championships originally located in New Jersey. However, the events were later relocated in New Jersey.

New Jersey is not the only state to legalize sports betting. Four states were exempted from the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection act, a fact that NJ attorneys called unfair in their arguments. The federal law, passed in 1992, allowed sports betting to continue in states in which it was previously allowed. State attorneys also argued that the law is unconstitutional, saying it violated the 10th Amendment by infringing State Legislature powers.

 

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