HomePublicationsNewsletter ArchiveNewslettersVolume 20Issue 21U.S. Supreme Court Denies Review of N.J. Challenge to Sports Wagering Prohibition

On June 23, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the request of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and other interested parties to review the September, 2013 decision of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals which upheld a permanent injunction prohibiting New Jersey from implementing sports wagering at the Atlantic City casinos and state horse race tracks.  The Supreme Court’s decision to deny this request for certiorari leaves the Third Circuit Court’s decision, which effectively found that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”)—the federal law currently prohibiting the expansion of sports wagering outside of the licensed Nevada sports books and certain limited lottery games and sports pools previously authorized in Oregon, Delaware, and Montana—was constitutional, as the controlling precedent in New Jersey.

This development is seen as a victory for the four professional sports leagues (including the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB) and the NCAA, which had initially filed the action seeking to block New Jersey’s plans to offer sports wagering. 

Though Governor Christie has stated that he accepts the Supreme Court’s decision and will “move on”, New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak (D), one of the largest supporters of the expansion of sports wagering into New Jersey, made the following statement after the Court’s decision, “[t]his is a disappointing decision, but our fight is not over. Today I will introduce legislation repealing the state laws that make sports betting illegal at our casinos and racetracks. I expect that the U.S. Justice Department will refrain from intervening, as they have with Colorado and Washington when those states legalized marijuana.”  Sen. Lesniak has since introduced New Jersey Senate Bill (“SB”) 2250, a measure that partially repeals prohibitions against sports wagering at New Jersey racetracks and casinos under current state laws.  SB2250 was quickly passed by both the New Jersey Senate and General Assembly on June 26th.  A copy of SB2250 can be found here: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2014/Bills/S2500/2250_I1.PDF.

Governor Christie now has until August 10, 2014 to sign SB2550, veto it, or do nothing and allow it to become law.  Though the implications of an enactment of SB2550 are not currently clear, it is likely that the professional sports leagues and the NCAA will continue to fight any attempts to expand sports wagering.    


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