US Appeals Court Voids NJ Sports Betting Law

courtIt seems to be nearly the end of the road for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s efforts to bring legal sports betting to the Garden State. This week, a federal appeals court ruled that New Jersey may not put into action a sports betting law that was passed in 2014, which would have allowed state-based casinos and racing tracks to offer wagering on sports. The federal court ruled that New Jersey’s law was in direct violation of the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) which bars all states, except for four who opted out at the time the law was passed, to offer sports betting.

Circuit Judge Marjorie Rendell wrote in her ruling on Tuesday: “Because PASPA, by its terms, prohibits states from authorizing by law sports gambling, and because the 2014 law does exactly that, the 2014 law violates federal law.”

The decision was made by a 12-judge panel, where 10 judges voted against the New Jersey sports betting law, one believed that the law was permissible despite PASPA, while the other ruled that PASPA in itself was unconstitutional since it denied states their basic rights to sovereignty.

Efforts to bring legal sports betting to New Jersey in a bid to revive its ailing gambling industry, have been ongoing for many years. Chris Christie has seen several courts rule in the same way but he was hoping that the appeals court would bring better news. The ruling was been seen as a victory for the sports organizations such as Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, the National Hockey League and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, who have been fighting tooth and nail to prevent New Jersey from passing the law.

It was clearly a disappointing ruling for those who have been supporting Governor Christie’s efforts, including one of the greatest proponents of gambling expansion in the state, Senator Raymond Lesniak.

“We were relying on having sports betting to give a big boost to our ailing Atlantic City casinos and our suffering racetracks,” said the senator in an interview this week. “It’s just wrong for Congress to deny New Jersey what the state of Nevada has.”

Lesniak has hinted that they won’t be quitting their efforts just yet, and the case could possibly be taken further to higher courts. “We do have two judges dissenting,” said the senator, “and we certainly will take a shot at the Supreme Court.”

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