The governor of New Jersey has been hard at work this year (and last year), trying to overturn gambling laws to give residents of the Garden State access to all kinds of betting games. New Jersey may be home to Atlantic City and offer a handful of completely legalized online casinos (only for play inside of the state), but sports betting is a more complicated story. As is often the case with gambling in the United States; it a tricky one, fraught with difficulties. What has been going on in New Jersey, then?
The governor signs a betting bill
On October 17, 2014 Governor Chris Christie signed legislation that would partially repeal some of the state’s laws on sports betting. In theory, the new law would have made it okay to place bets at racetracks and casinos as early as October 26.
On the opposite end of the scale, the Monmouth Park race track decided to build a sports bar and restaurant. It was thought that as soon as sports betting became legalized in the state, they would be among the first to offer such services. Bets were to begin at the end of October, and naturally, we know that they didn’t happen. Obviously, something went wrong.
Major sporting organisations – such as the NFL and NBA – have long been fighting New Jersey’s bid to legalize sports betting. It was clear from the start that any new law that the governor passed would instantly be contested in court.
A judge denies access to sports betting
The battle came to a head just before betting would have taken place. The NCAA, NFL and other major sports leagues decided to apply for a restraining order. Judge Michael Shipp, of the District Court in Trenton, New Jersey issued an injunction barring implementation of the the New Jersey gambling law changes.
Since then, both the NBA and NFL have filed for a permanent injunction on the 2014 Sports Wagering Law issued by New Jersey. They claim that it violates the U.S. Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which clearly says that states are forbidden from offering sports betting with the exception of Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon (who applied in time and were grandfathered in).
The news was a blow to New Jersey and to Monmouth Park, as they had hoped to revive their gambling industry. Recently, as many as four casinos closed and hundreds of people have been put out of work. New Jersey is asking one simple question. Why are Delaware, Montana, Oregon and Nevada entitled to offer sports betting, and New Jersey isn’t? The answer is simply that they failed to act before the Federal law took effect in 1992.
So, what’s the deal?
Despite the ruling, make no mistake about it: New Jersey will fight the latest attempts to limit their gambling services. There are more hearings planned in the district court and a Third Court of Appeals case is also to be heard. Both may have previously ruled against New Jersey, but even the Department of Justice could get involved if it becomes a “one rule for some, and a different rule for others” case.
For the moment, though, New Jersey sports bettors will have to keep the cork in the bottle, however unfair that may seem.