New Jersey Sportsbetting Appeal Struck Down By Federal Court

Superbowl XLVIII, scheduled for February 2 2014, will be the first NFL championship played in New Jersey.  But fans of the game will likely be unable to place legal bets on the outcome as US federal court judges struck down an appeal from the Garden State to authorize sportsbetting.

The panel of judges voted 2 – 1 against New Jersey, which maintains the status quo for the time being.  However, Governor Chris Christie can make one last appeal to the US Supreme Court, and hinted he will launch that appeal as soon as possible. 

Christie first wants assurances that the Supreme Court will expedite the case for a final decision before the Superbowl is played in February.  New Jersey considers sportsbetting an opportunity to bring necessary revenue back to the struggling Atlantic City casinos, which are losing foot traffic year over year.  The state also legalized online gambling earlier this year to provide new streams of revenue for the casinos.

New Jersey’s efforts to legalize sportsbetting are hindered by a law passed in 1992 that banned sports wagering across the US.  Four states that already legalized the practice were grandfathered into the law and exempt from the ban, while New Jersey was given a one year extension to authorize its own sportsbetting laws.  When the deadline expired, New Jersey was forced to live without legalized sportsbetting.

But Christie sees value in the practice, and a 2011 state referendum regarding sportsbetting was overwhelmingly passed by citizens and senators.  Unfortunately, the North American sports leagues obstructed the New Jersey referendum by arguing further sportsbetting would “compromise the integrity of their games.” Many of these arguments from the leagues were similar to their opposition to the Canadian sportsbetting bill known as Bill C-290, which would have authorized single game bets if it was passed into law.

Raymond Lesniak, one of New Jersey’s most liberalized senators regarding gambling and sportsbetting, placed what positive spin he could on the federal court ruling.  He also supported Governor Christie’s efforts to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.

“For the first time, a judge has ruled in our favor.  That gives us hope that others will allow New Jersey to enjoy the economic benefits of sports betting that are now reserved exclusively for Nevada.” 

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