HomePublicationsNewsletter ArchiveVolume 19Issue 5U.S. District Court Issues Ruling in New Jersey Sports Wagering Case

Last night, Judge Michael Shipp of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey issued an Opinion and Order granting the Motion for Summary Judgment and Request for Permanent Injunction filed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) and the other major professional sports leagues (including the NFL, NHL, NBA and Major League Baseball) in the lawsuit challenging the sports wagering law enacted by the New Jersey legislature in January, 2012.  In rendering this decision, the Court also denied the cross Motion for Summary Judgment filed by the Defendants in this matter, including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and the Director of the N.J. Division of Gaming Enforcement, which challenged the constitutionality of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”), the federal law which prohibits the expansion of sports wageringoutside of the licensed Nevada sports books and certain limited lottery games and non-banking sports pools previously authorized in Oregon, Delaware, and Montana.

In challenging PASPA, the Defendants argued that the statute, which prohibits sports wagering in 46 states, yet “grandfathered” certain sports wagering schemes in four other states, violates: 1) the Commerce Clause, 2) the Tenth Amendment, 3) The Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Principles and 4) the Equal Footing Doctrine.  In a 45-page opinion, the Court disagreed with New Jersey’s position, finding PASPA to be constitutional, and further “permanently enjoining [the Defendants] from sponsoring, operating, advertising, promoting, licensing, or authorizing a lottery, sweepstakes, or other betting, gambling, or wagering scheme based, directly or indirectly (through the use of geographical references or otherwise), on one or more competitive games in which amateur or professional athletes participate, or are intended to participate, or on one or more performances of such athletes in such games.”  Judge Shipp further noted:

“[a]lthough some of the questions raised in this case are novel, judicial intervention is generally unwarranted no matter how unwise a court considers a policy decision of the legislative branch. As such, to 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.”      

The Defendants will now have to decide if they will appeal this decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.  Many observers have predicted that this may be an issue which ultimately reaches the U.S. Supreme Court.

A copy of Judge Shipp’s Opinion in this matter can be viewed here.


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