Fight to Legalize Sports Betting in New Jersey Not Over

November 4, 2013

New Jersey is asking a federal appeals court for another chance to make the case that the state should be able to legalize sports betting at its casinos and horse racing tracks.

Gov. Chris Christie — joined by leaders in the state Legislature and the owners of Monmouth Park Racetrack — is asking for a rehearing before the full 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. In September, a three-judge panel from the 3rd Circuit ruled that a federal statute barring states from legalizing or regulating sports betting is constitutional.

But in a petition filed late Friday, lawyers for the state call the 2-1 decision bizarre, saying the judges’ interpretation of the federal law — the U.S. Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act — is “strained.”

“New Jersey’s effort to shift sports wagering out of black markets and into closely regulated casinos and racetracks was approved by overwhelming majorities of the electorate and the Legislature,” the attorneys wrote.

The lawyers have argued that the federal law unfairly grandfathered in four states, that it violates the 10th Amendment by forcing states to ban sports betting, and that it “commandeers” the state Legislature.