New Jersey sports betting case

Chris Christie’s administration is asking for the entire Third Circuit Court of Appeals to hear the case over the state’s sports betting laws. (Image: Reuters/Mike Segar)

New Jersey wants to allow sports betting within its borders, and the state isn’t going to be giving up on that dream just yet.

Governor Chris Christie’s administration has filed a motion asking the entire Third Circuit Court of Appeals to hear their case, a move that would seek to overturn a ruling from a three-judge panel from that court.

Christie isn’t the only party interested in seeing the case move forward.

Both the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and the state Legislature have filed motions that also seek to have the case heard by the entire court.

New Jersey Has Battled Sports Leagues Over Betting

New Jersey has been seeking the legalization of sports betting as a way to provide more revenue to Atlantic City casinos and the horse racing industry.

However, they have been fought every step of the way by the NCAA and the major American sports leagues, and judges have consistently ruled that legislation passed in the state to regulate sports betting is illegal because of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

In their motion, the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association said that the case was critical to saving their industry, and that tracks like Monmouth Park might not survive if sports betting were not legalized.

“It will likely mean the end of New Jersey’s equine industry, taking with it the jobs that this industry provides,” attorney Ronald Riccio wrote in the motion, referring to what would happen if New Jersey’s sports betting laws were overturned. “A similar fate may befall Atlantic City as casinos continue to close.”

Two Attempts to Allow Sports Betting Have Failed

New Jersey has recently tried twice to pass sports betting legislation, but has found those laws struck down in court both times. In 2012, lawmakers legalized such bets, but New Jersey lost the case in the Third Circuit.

However, based on that decision, the state once again gave sports betting legislation a shot last year.

That effort tried to allow casinos and racetracks to take bets without expressly regulating the practice, in the hopes that this would get the state around PASPA by reducing restrictions on gambling without putting a regulatory regime into place.

Once again, federal judges have consistently ruled against New Jersey. The Third Circuit panel found against the state by a 2-1 decision, with Judge Julio Fuentes providing the dissenting vote in the state’s favor.

“I do not see…how the majority concludes that the 2014 Law authorizes sports wagering, much less in violation of PASPA,” Fuentes wrote.

The dissent made sense, as Fuentes had also written the majority decision in the first sports betting case, in which he said that while state authorization of sports betting was illegal under PASPA, simply repealing the state’s prohibitions against the practice was not.

According to a spokesperson for Governor Christie, the state is vowing to fight for as long as possible on this issue.

“The people of New Jersey have spoken on this issue, and we will continue to fight to protect the will of our voters from the fickle and unfair application of outdated and unconstitutional federal law,” said Christie spokesperson Brian Murray. “At the end of the day, this isn’t just about New Jersey being treated fairly under federal law, but about the common sense reality of bringing a sports wagering industry that is already taking place every day in our state out of the shadows.”