New Jersey Law Legalizing Sports Gambling: Struck Down

On August 9, 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit struck down the New Jersey law legalizing gambling on sports. The issue presented on this appeal was whether SB 2460, which the New Jersey Legislature enacted in 2014 to partially repeal certain prohibitions on sports gambling, violates federal law. The lower district court determined that the 2014 Law violates the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). The appellate division affirmed the lower courts decision because the 2014 Law goes directly against PASPA, which prohibits states from authorizing by law sports gambling.

New Jersey argued that their 2014 Law did not violate the federal law because it was repealing its ban on sports betting at casinos and racetracks, rather than affirmatively authorizing it. New Jersey also argued that the 2014 Law should not be construed as a state authorization of sports gambling. The Third Circuit rejected both of the arguments saying, “States may not use clever drafting or mandatory construction provisions to escape the supremacy of federal law.”

According to a recent poll taken by Seton Hall University, 63 percent of the population believes that betting on sports should be legal, and 68 percent of the respondents said sports betting’s legality should be decided at the state level. However, major professional sports leagues such as the N.C.A.A, agree with the Third Circuit saying, “We are pleased the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has denied New Jersey’s latest attempt to allow sports wagering in the state. As other courts have acknowledged, federal law does not permit New Jersey’s actions. The N.C.A.A. continues to believe that PASPA is an important law that appropriately protects the integrity of sport in America.”

A New Jersey lawmaker who led the push for sports betting told he expected the state to seek cert with the U.S. Supreme Court.

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