Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts by New Jersey to legalize sports betting. A lawsuit filed by the NCAA, NFL, MLB, NBA & NHL was upheld in the court and when the Supreme Court recently refused to take up the case, that early ruling was upheld, thereby making the federal ban on sports betting the law of record. New Jersey legislatures have since decided to ignore the ruling and pass new legislation. Their rational falls along two lines, the first of which is explained by the online source Constitution Daily:
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to accept New Jersey’s appeal about legalized sports betting. But one politician seemingly has a plan to get around the decision.
State Senator Ray Lesniak repeated claims on Monday—arguments first made on a New York sports radio station last week—that New Jersey should ignore the feds, just like Colorado and Washington State did when voters there approved legalized marijuana in referendums.
Lesniak said in a statement today that he would introduce new legislation to make sure pro sports betting happens, with or without federal approval.
“I expect that the U.S. Justice Department will refrain from intervening, as they have with Colorado and Washington when those states legalized marijuana,” Lesniak said. “I plan on placing my first bet at Monmouth Racetrack on Sept. 8 for the Giants to beat the spread against the Lions on ‘Monday Night Football.’”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the Supreme Court ruling should be acknowledged given that’s how the law works, and that they should just move on. However, the General Assembly passed new legislation 63-6-2 that allows for this sports betting. The second bit of rational comes from wording in the appellate courts decision. A New Jersey political blog explains:
The bill is inspired by the September 2013 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in the case of the NCAA vs the State of New Jersey wherein the court interpreted the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 to “not read PASPA to prohibit New Jersey from repealing its ban on sports wagering.”
The court further stated that “it is left up to each state to decide how much of a law enforcement priority it wants to make of sports gambling, or what the exact contours of the prohibition will be.”
Moreover, the United States in its brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in opposition to the above-referenced case wrote that “PASPA does not even obligate New Jersey to leave in place the state-law prohibitions against sports gambling that it had chosen to adopt prior to PASPA’s enactment. To the contrary, New Jersey is free to repeal those prohibitions in whole or in part.”
The bill also cleared the Senate and will go before the Governor. Time will tell if he vetoes or allows the bill to become law. No doubt the Justice Department and the other sports leagues will be watching to see what action the Governor takes.
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