New Jersey revives battle to legalize sports betting, presents oral argument before full appeals court
Feb 18, 2016 12:11 AM EST
Lawyers representing New Jersey appeared in court on Wednesday to argue that the state should legalize sports-betting in casinos and horse-racing tracks. This recent attempt continues Governor Chris Christie's four-year legal battle to allow Atlantic City casinos to offer legal sports-betting similar to those in Las Vegas.
Former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson, who represented New Jersey, presented a 30-minute oral argument before an en banc hearing with 12 circuit judges.
Reuters reported New Jersey sidelined prohibitions against sports-betting in 2014 in an attempt to allow sports wagering. Five sports organization, including NCAA and NLF, and the U.S. government struck down New Jersey's challenge as it permits the illegal activity in several locations.
Under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992, state-sanctioned sports-betting is illegal in most states across the U.S. This limitation on sports-betting is backed by sport organizations NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NCAA.
Pushing for the legalization of sports-betting is a difficult challenge for New Jersey which has seen defeat twice when it lobbied two previous versions of the law. According to North Jersey, three of the 12 judges that sat en banc to hear Olson's argumentation voted against those previous laws. New Jersey will need at least seven votes from the panel to succeed. Only Nevada, Montana, Oregon and Delaware were exempted from the law.
A decision from the Court of Appeals could take months to finalize.
New Jersey voters showed favor to legal sports-betting when they passed a law to legalize it in 2011. This industry is seen as a means to save New Jersey's dwindling casino industry and sluggish economy.
"Atlantic City's demise has been driven by the fact the casinos don't have an attraction that would lead visitors to buy rooms, go out to dinner to see a show," New Jersey Senator Raymond Lesniak said, via USA Today. "When they come to Atlantic City now, they usually go for just the day and not for a long weekend. To have an event like the Super Bowl where people can bet would be huge boost for Atlantic City. It'd also help put fannies in the seats at the race tracks."
If New Jersey receives an unfavorable decision from the appeals court, they could elevate a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, although the high court would have full discretion whether to hear the case or not.