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3rd Circuit strikes down New Jersey sports betting

The court ruled the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act takes first precedence over recent laws

With enough casinos to make a gambler’s head spin and boisterous nightlife with clubs and bars everywhere, Atlantic City, N.J., has long been trying to establish itself as the Vegas of the East. But there’s one offering that Las Vegas has that Atlantic City does not: sports gambling.

After yesterday’s ruling by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, it looks like they’ll have to wait a bit longer.

The court ruled on Aug. 17 that the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a statute that restricts sports gambling, pre-empts a recent N.J. law that would allow betting on professional and college sports at racetracks and Atlantic City casinos.

“We are not asked to judge the wisdom of the PASPA or of New Jersey’s law, or of the desirability of the activities they seek to regulate,” the court said. “We speak only to the legality of these measures as a matter of constitutional law.”

According to Bloomberg, one analyst says that legalized sports gambling could net the state as much as $100 million in the program’s first year alone through $1 billion in bets. According to N.J. lawmakers, those profits are worth fighting for.

“We will continue to fight this injustice by either appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court or to the entire Court of Appeals,” State Senator Raymond J. Lesniak said in an e-mailed statement after the ruling.

At a campaign stop today, N.J. Governor Chris Christie also expressed the urge to fight the ruling and said through a spokesman, “Two years ago, the people of New Jersey voted overwhelmingly. The governor agrees with his constituents.”

The neighboring state of Delaware also recently challenged the legality of sports betting. In Delaware’s case, the same 3rd Circuit court ruled that Delaware could not allow single-game betting but could offer bets as “parlays” at three games at a time. Delaware, Nevada, Montana and Oregon are the only states that offer some form of legal sports betting.

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Zach Warren

Zach Warren is Assistant Editor of InsideCounsel magazine, where he oversees online content submissions and administers InsideCounsel's enewsletters. Zach specializes in new media and multimedia...

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