STATE – The nations four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA have filed suit in federal court to prevent New Jersey from allowing sports betting at racetracks and Atlantic City casinos.
Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and the National Collegiate Athletic Association are citing a 1992 law that prohibits all but four states from allowing wagering on professional or collegiate sports.
In November, New Jersey voters passed a Constitutional amendment to allow sports betting, and Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation to facilitate it earlier this year.
“Let the games begin,” said state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) about the lawsuit. “From the start, we wanted our day in court to prove that the federal ban on sports wagering is unconstitutional. By moving forward with a law to legalize sports wagering in New Jersey – a law that was approved overwhelmingly by the voting public of New Jersey – we drew a line in the sand and dared the sports organizations to cross it. Their lawsuit today means they’ve played right into our hands, and now they have the burden of defending the constitutionality of an unfair sports wagering ban which gives four states in the country – and off-shore betting operators and organized crime – a monopoly to the detriment of everybody else.”
Lesniak had previously gone to court in an attempt to overturn the federal sports betting ban, but the lawsuit was dismissed because state law at the time also prohibited it and the court saw no need to rule on the constitutionality of the federal law.
“Frankly, I was wondering when they were going to take the bait,” added Lesniak. “Now we can once and for all put to rest the question of New Jersey’s ability to determine for itself the appropriateness of sports wagering. The sooner we get into court, the sooner our residents will be able to enjoy sports betting at our casinos and racetracks and our state treasury will get the revenues from sports betting now going to Nevada and organized crime betting rings.”