HomePublicationsNewsletter ArchiveVolume 19Issue 4Sports Wagering Expansion Bills Introduced in Congress

On February 13, 2013, two (2) separate bills that seek to amend provisions of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, the federal law that prohibits sports wagering outside of the licensed Nevada sports books and certain limited lottery games and non-banking sports pools previously authorized in Oregon, Delaware and Montana, were introduced in Congress. House Resolution (“HR”) 625, entitled the “Sports Gaming Opportunity Act of 2013” was introduced by Representative Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) and seeks to allow States that enact a sports lottery, sweepstakes or other wagering scheme during a four year period (running from January 1, 2013 thorugh January 1, 2017) to be exempt from PASPA’s sports wagering prohibitions.   

HR 626, entitled the “New Jersey Betting and Equal Treatment Act of 2013”, was introduced by Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and seeks to exclude only the State of New Jersey from PASPA’s prohibitions to the extent a sports lottery, sweepstakes or other wagering scheme is approved by the state legislature.

New Jersey is somewhat unique in this regard, as the provisions of PASPA, which was enacted in 1992, provided a one-year window of opportunity for the State of New Jersey to pass a law setting forth a sports wagering scheme to be conducted within that state's regulated casinos. Though Atlantic City was the second largest commercial gaming region in the country at that time, the New Jersey legislature failed to statutorily authorize a sports wagering scheme before this window closed on January 1, 1994.  However, in 2011, and in spite of PASPA’s explicit prohibitions, New Jersey enacted a sports wagering law that allows sports betting at casinos and racetracks - - though this measure will not become effective until PASPA is amended or declared unconstitutional. 

The professional sports leagues (including the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball) and the NCAA have recently filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey (Case No. 12-cv-04947-MAS-LHG) challenging the New Jersey sports wagering law, while New Jersey has responded by challenging the constitutionality of PASPA.  Oral arguments on each sides’ respective motion for summary judgment were heard on February 14th, with the presiding judge deciding to reserve his decision.  It is unknown when the Court will ultimately rule in this regard. 

Both HR 625 and HR 626 have been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for review.  These current bills mirror measures that were introduced during the last Congressional session, though neither prior bill (HR 3797 and HR 3809, respectively) was able to make it out of the House Judiciary Committee.  


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