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New Jersey Sports Betting Runs Into Brick WallPublished September 12, 2015 by Elana K
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals panel rejected New Jersey's bid to legalize sports betting in casinos and racetracks.
On August 25, New Jersey's four-year effort to legalize sports betting ran into a brick wall when a three-judge panel of the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the state's plan to allow casinos and racetracks to offer sports betting.
While state officials cannot technically appeal the Third Circuit Court’s decision, they can can ask for an "en banc" review, which means that the issue would be heard by all 23 judges instead of 3.
What is the issue?
The issue at hand is whether New Jersey's plan to add sports betting to casinos violates a 1992 federal ban on sports betting called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
New Jersey is pushing to allow sports betting because both Atlantic City casinos and the horse racing industry are struggling. But when the law was passed four years ago, the state was sued by the NCAA, NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL, with the claim that tying sports betting to gambling threatens the integrity of the games and violates the federal ban. Thus far, the courts have ruled in favor of the leagues.
The Next Step
If New Jersey is not granted an “en banc” review, they can still petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. But he the court only grants about 1% of petitions, and New Jersey was already denied in 2013 during their first attempt. Other advocates say that New Jersey’s best hope is to lobby Congress to repeal or change the federal ban, but experts say that that course of action could take years.
"I still think our best chance right now in the Third Circuit," commented Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), the leader behind the drive to legalize sports betting. Lesniak was also the mover behind the bill that allowed New Jersey to legalize online gambling, so perhaps there is still some hope for sports betting. But legalizing online sports betting in New Jersey? Don’t hold your breath.