Bloomberg News

New Jersey Sports Betting Law Under Federal Judge’s Review

February 14, 2013

A New Jersey law that would legalize sports gambling in the state is under review by a federal judge who said he would issue a ruling in two weeks.

Lawyers for the U.S. argued today during a hearing in federal court in Trenton before U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp that a 1992 federal law requiring states to restrict sports betting prevents New Jersey’s actions. Attorneys for New Jersey said the federal law violates the state’s sovereignty.

The U.S. can’t “regulate the state’s ability to govern its citizens or the judgment of the government of the state of New Jersey,” Theodore Olson, an attorney for the state, told Shipp.

The federal statute “does not require the state of New Jersey to enact laws” Paul Fishman, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, argued for the government. It “doesn’t require the state to do more than what they were doing.”

Fishman also told the judge that gambling undermines the integrity of professional and college sports.

The law, signed by Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in January 2012, would permit wagering on professional and college sports at racetracks and Atlantic City casinos.

The lawsuit was filed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and several professional sports organizations to stop the law from taking effect.

New Revenue

Legalized sports gambling could generate $1 billion in bets and as much as $100 million in new annual revenue for the state in its first year, William J. Pascrell III, a lead lobbyist for the measure, said in an earlier interview.

Sports organizations including the National Football League and Major League Baseball sued New Jersey’s government in August to block betting in the state. The National Hockey League, National Basketball Association and NCAA joined the complaint.

The 1992 federal law bans sports betting in all but four states: Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon. New Jersey said in a court filing that the law is unconstitutional.

The case is National Collegiate Athletic Association v. Christie, 12-4947, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Trenton).

To contact the reporters on this story: Sophia Pearson in Trenton at spearson3@bloomberg.net; Phil Milford in Wilmington, Delaware at pmilford@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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