TRENTON – New Jersey’s efforts to revive its struggling casino business suffered another setback on Thursday, when a federal judge upheld a law prohibiting sports betting in 46 of 50 states. The state is expected to appeal the decision.
“This is a huge disappointment for all of us who continue to believe that New Jersey should have the right to allow sports betting,” said state Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Union), one of the leading proponents of bringing legalized sports wagering to the Garden State. “Along with online gaming, sports betting would allow New Jersey to be in the forefront of the modern gaming industry, creating jobs and providing both immediate and long-term economic benefits.”
In 2011, voters approved a referendum to allow sports betting in New Jersey and last year the state enacted legislation that would allow Atlantic City’s casinos and horse racing tracks throughout the state to accept wagers on most major sporting events.
However, the four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA filed suit against New Jersey to keep the state from allowing sports gambling.
At issue is a 1992 law called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which prevents gambling on sports except in Nevada, Oregon, Montana and Delaware, which already had some form of sports betting. New Jersey argued that the law violates state sovereignty.
U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp wrote, “[T]o the extent the people of New Jersey disagree with PASPA, their remedy is not through passage of a state law or through the judiciary, but through the repeal or amendment of PASPA in Congress.”
“I urge the entire New Jersey Congressional delegation to support the federal legislation sponsored by Congressman Frank Pallone and Congressman Frank LoBiondo that would lift the federal ban on sports betting and allow New Jersey to compete fairly with Nevada, where sports betting is allowed,” Lesniak said.
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