U.S. Sports Associations Granted Restraining Order against New Jersey Sports Betting
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp blocked sports gambling at Monmouth Park in New Jersey. The temporary restraining order is a victory of the major American sports leagues, which had sued the state of New Jersey to keep casinos and racetracks in the state from opening sportsbooks.
Monmouth Park Preparations in Vain
Monmouth Park was prepared to take sports wagers this weekend at the William Hill Sports Bar. The park had hired 110 employees to staff the sportsbook, but those new employees are now without work.
The decision stifled a sense of optimism that had permeated the New Jersey leadership after Governor Chris Christie had signed a bill that repealed many of the state’s sports betting laws. The repeal was a legal move which lawmakers and administration officials had hoped would clear the way for a favorable ruling.
Defeat for New Jersey Gambling
Instead, Judge Shipp slammed down the curtain on sports betting. The ruling is a defeat for New Jersey, which is trying to rescue its failing casino gambling industry. Atlantic City has had 4 of its 12 casinos close this year, while the Trump Taj Mahal is set to be the fifth closure, on November 13.
New Jersey has been fighting a losing legal battle for the past two years with the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and NCAA. When the New Jersey legislature passed a sports betting law in 2012, those leagues sued the state. That led to a protracted legal battle, which ended back in June 2014 when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to listen to arguments. Chris Christie had appealed Judge Shipp’s original ruling to the Supreme Court.
More Rulings to Come
The case is not over. Experts expect more hearings in district court, along with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. It is also possible that the U.S. Department of Justice might also give its opinion on the matter.
Lesniak Is Disappointed
New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak was the man who sponsored the sports gambling repeal bill last week. Lesniak was confident the bill would clear the way for sports gambling, so he is understandably disappointed by events. Lesniak told ESPN, “It’s incredibly disappointing. It’s very, very important to both our casinos and racetracks, so we’re going to continue to pursue it.”
Neither the NFL nor the NBA commented on the case, when contacted. The leagues filed jointly last Monday, asking the court for a permanent injunction against sports betting. The filing claimed the 2014 Sports Wagering Laws violates provisions of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA).
Federal Sports Gaming Ban
The PASPA prohibits states besides Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Delaware from promoting or licensing sports betting. Forty-six states cannot authorize, operate, or advertise sports betting, either.
The Sports Wagering Law was signed into law by Governor Chris Christie last week. The bill repealed previous sports gambling laws passed by the legislature, though it restricted sportsbooks to the Atlantic City casinos and state racetracks. College games played inside New Jersey also cannot be wagered upon, supposedly to keep bookies from trying to fix games.
2014 Sports Wagering Law
In the legal brief submitted to Judge Shipp, lawyers for the sports associations argued that “despite its ‘repeal’ language, the 2014 Sports Wagering Law is a blatant attempt by the State of New Jersey to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license and/or authorize sports gambling in Atlantic City casinos and at New Jersey racetracks. As such, the 2014 Sports Wagering Law violates PASPA.”
Ted Olson, a former U.S. Solicitor General, represented New Jersey in the case. Olson replied: “To follow the Third Circuit’s interpretation of PASPA, the Repealer [2014 Sports Wagering Act] expressly states that it is ‘not intended and shall not be construed as causing the State to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize by law or compact the placement or acceptance’ of a sports wager.”
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