New Jersey is soon expected to join Nevada as the second state in American to legalize single-game sports wagering via a favorable ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court. The court ruled in favor of the state of New Jersey on May 14, 2018, allowing for NJ and other states to regulate sports betting if they choose. New Jersey is expected to capitalize immediately, with sportsbooks likely to begin offering bets within weeks of the Supreme Court decision.
Here is a history and guide of the legal battle to legalize betting on sports in New Jersey:
In December of 2017, former Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie filed a suit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), centered on a 17-year-old law that represents the status quo on sports betting throughout the nation.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) prohibited state-sponsored sports betting in all states aside from a handful (Oregon, Montana, Delaware) that were “grandfathered” and allowed to maintain their minor sports wagering practices. While of course, Nevada and specifically Las Vegas remains the national hub of legalized gambling.
But with testimony from NBA commissioner David Stern amongst others, the U.S. Senate concluded that the detriments of sports betting outweighed the potential economic benefits and prohibited state-sponsored betting.
The law did allow for states which had operated licensed casino gaming for 10 years to pass their own legislation on the issue, but New Jersey did not act until 2009, when New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak filed a lawsuit claiming that PASPA was unconstitutional as an abridgment of states’ rights.
In 2011, New Jersey residents voted to legalize sports gambling and Governor Christie signed it into law the following year. But professional sports leagues actually sued, citing PASPA, and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the leagues.
After another voter referendum in 2014 allowed Christie to try and legalize sports betting, the state law was struck down once again by circuit courts. The Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cited PASPA and ruled that the 2014 law violates federal law.
So, Christie and other proponents of legalized sports wagering in New Jersey went directly after PASPA.
While New Jersey was at the vanguard of this discussion due to its prevalent place in the gambling community with Atlantic City Casinos and horse tracks throughout the Garden State, other states were openly supportive of the suit.
The governors of Kentucky, Maryland and North Dakota signed on in support of New Jersey in the case of Christie v NCAA. Connecticut, Mississippi, New York and Pennsylvania passed legislation that would allow sports betting if the federal ban (PASPA) is lifted.
In total, 21 states were on record in their support of legalized and regulated sports betting, and more are expected to follow suit now that New Jersey has won its appeal.
And professional sports leagues have turned a corner in terms of their support of legalized sports wagering.
With the Vegas Golden Knights already thriving and the Oakland Raiders scheduled to move to Las Vegas in 2020, major sports leagues are moving one step closer towards a union with the sports betting world.
The MLB and NBA, which fought to strike down New Jersey’s initial attempts at regulation in 2011, are pivoting on the issue. Expecting an eventually favorable ruling, the leagues are asking for “integrity fees” of approximately 1% of the handle from every sportsbook running contests on the league’s sporting events.