New Jersey Struggles To Legitimize Sportsbetting

Last week New Jersey passed its online gambling bill into law, and became the third state to legalize internet bets in the US after Nevada and Delaware.  Unfortunately, the state’s effort to legalize sportsbetting has been more difficult.  Nevertheless, Governor Chris Christie vowed he would fight the federal ban that restricts sportsbetting outside of four designated states.

Christie passed the online gambling bill after several amendments were made to the legislation.  The Governor says he wanted to strike a balance between looking out for New Jersey residents, and providing a new revenue stream for Atlantic City casinos.  The amendments were welcomed by the state legislature, and online casinos around the world were ecstatic when Christie made the law official.

However, the Governor’s efforts to legalize sportsbetting have proven more challenging due to outside objections.  New Jersey conditionally legalized sportsbetting last year at racetracks and within Atlantic City casinos, but immediately faced challenges from North America’s four major sports leagues as well as the NCAA.  The leagues listed the same arguments they have made against Canada’s proposed sportsbetting bill – that legitimizing single game bets would violate the integrity of their leagues.  These claims have been largely discredited in both the US and Canada.

The US passed a federal law in 1992 that banned legalized sportsbetting except in four states that already had legalized the gambling practice – Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana.  Christie has challenged the legitimacy of this ban by arguing it violates individual state’s rights under the constitution.  However, US District Judge Michael Shipp issued a ruling last week which said the 1992 ban doesn’t violate the rights of New Jersey or any other state, and struck down the law that allowed legal bets.

Christie issued a statement on March 1 following the judge’s ruling in which he promised to continue fighting for equalization by taking the case to US Federal Court.

“We are confident that the federal court of appeals will conclude that New Jersey should be treated equally with other states.” 

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