Sports Betting in New Jersey

Sports Betting in New Jersey – Possibility or a Pipe Dream?

The state of New Jersey has waged a long battle to legalise sports betting and the issue has gone back and forth in federal courts ever since the state passed a law six years ago in order to make sports betting legal. It was promptly opposed by the professional sports leagues which are firmly against sports betting and they stated that it violated the 1992 federal law that made sports betting illegal. The NCAA has joined hands with the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL to oppose any form of sports betting in the country aside of what is already available in Las Vegas.

New Jersey has faced two reverses so far in federal courts but it continues to pursue this issue doggedly. The state was given one last opportunity to make its case before the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals and it remains to be seen whether the panel of 12 judges were swayed by the state’s arguments or not. The latest oral hearing took place Wednesday before a en banc panel and this itself was rare enough to give the state plenty of hope.

The Garden State hopes to make sports betting legal because this will revitalize its economy. The racetracks and casinos in the state have seen dipping revenues and this is major cause for concern since the casinos provide employment to large numbers of people. If they are able to offer high quality sports books to gamblers then they will be able to attract some of the business that goes to Las Vegas or to unauthorised bookies.

Chris Christie

New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie feels that the state has a very strong case and that the 12-judge panel will vote in its favour. The state is being represented in court by former U.S. solicitor general Theodore Olson. The basis of their argument is a loophole in the federal law only forbids the state from permitting betting. In fact, the state’s 2014 law attempted to circumvent this requirement by amending the state’s existing laws to permit racetracks and casinos to offer sports betting without any regulation by the state. According to Olson, Congress doesn’t even have the authority to compel specific states to regulate. After all, the New Jersey legislature did nothing but repeal prohibitions instead of authorizing anything.

Some judges did have reservations about the strategy employed by New Jersey. In the opinion of Judge Kent Jordan, the state was just authorizing sports betting, albeit in a different manner. Judge Julio Fuentes also brought up the point that customers would not get sufficient protection if the sports betting operations did not get sufficient oversight from the state. However, in the case of Oceanport’s Monmouth Park at least, the sports betting operations would be completely managed by William Hill Agency and would therefore have a very high degree of self-regulation.

The 12-judge panel will not rule in the case before three months; in fact, this might go up to six months. However, the case is being watched very carefully because of its national implications.