In New Jersey, two state lawmakers have introduced legislation that would repeal all local laws and regulations that prohibit and regulate sportsbetting in order to circumvent the federal ban instituted in 1992 by the Professional And Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
According to a report from The Associated Press, PASPA forbids all but the four states of Nevada, Oregon, Montana and Delaware from offering sports betting but New Jersey has been trying to legalize the activity since 2009 with little success.
In August, the United States Court Of Appeals For The Third Circuit in Philadelphia invalidated a 2014 law that would have allowed New Jersey to legalize sports betting at its casinos and racetracks after finding that the carve-out meant that legislators had not gone far enough in repealing applicable state prohibitions.
In order to get around the ruling, which the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association has petitioned the United States Supreme Court to consider, New Jersey General Assembly Democrats Ralph Caputo and John Burzichelli introduced a bill on Thursday that, if passed, would repeal every local law related to sports betting.
“This is just the beginning of a discussion to comply with the court’s statement,” Caputo, who represents the state’s 28th Legislative District, told news outlet NJ Advance Media. “It’s really a working document at this point.”
Caputo revealed that the idea of the new measure is to authorize a full repeal, which is something the federal government has acknowledged is within the state’s right, without violating the language of PASPA.
However, critics have pointed out that full abolition would throw up a host of new problems including the fact that, with no rules, even children would be free to engage in sports betting and the activity could be conducted anywhere.
In reply, Caputo told The Associated Press that the state would likely move to add “limited restrictions” afterward as was envisioned by a federal judge when issuing a dissenting opinion that sided with New Jersey.
“There have got to be things added to this,” Caputo told The Associated Press. “A lot brighter people than me have worked on this and they haven’t found the ultimate answer yet.”
Despite leading the fight for legalized sports betting in the eastern state and suggesting a similar repeal after August’s federal court ruling, New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak told NJ Advance Media that he is not yet a supporter of the new legislation.
“I call this the wild, wild west,” said Lesniak. “When I was growing up, I could place bets at my local grocery store. I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
But, Lesniak declared that he could still be “convinced” to support the measure so long as there was a way to include some restrictions.
“We can’t open [sports betting] up to everybody,” Caputo told NJ Advance Media. “I don’t have the answers at this point. Hopefully, we can come up with some kind of solution.”
Gaming and sports law attorney Daniel Wallach told NJ Advance Media that the proposed legislation is the “only avenue that is completely” within the state’s control although it would come with “risks and political consequences” such as what would happen if a New Jersey operator took a wager from out of state, over the telephone or via the internet, which would violate the federal Wire Act.
“It cannot be challenged,” said Wallach. “The [United States Court Of Appeals For The Third Circuit] was clear a state could repeal all its laws. You would have to make sure to keep betting within New Jersey and make sure no information is transmitted across state lines.”