NJ Says OK to Casino Sports Betting in Atlantic City

Casinos and racetracks throughout New Jersey can now operate sports betting pools without fear of criminal or civil liabilities, according to a press release issued by Gov. Chris Christie.

The announcement was the result of a statewide directive issued by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office and a motion filed on behalf of Gov. Chris Christie in U.S. District Court.

The Attorney General’s statewide directive, effective Monday, Sept. 8, follows the Third Circuit Court ruling in concluding that nothing under New Jersey law prevents casinos and racetracks from operating a sports pool.

Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo of Northfield applauded the decision as a victory for Atlantic City.

Mazzeo said that despite the recent casino closings, lawmakers are taking steps to transition Atlantic City from a gaming town to a more all-encompassing tourist destination.

“A key part of this transition is the incorporation of sports betting,” he said in a news release issued about the directive and the Atlantic City gaming summit held today.

“It is my hope that the dialogue we are starting today will turn into real progress tomorrow and in the months to follow. We owe it to Atlantic City and the thousands of workers seeking employment to act now to put this historic city back on the path to success.”

He said, “It is reassuring to see the administration side with us today by issuing a directive to pave the way for legalized sports betting in New Jersey,” Mazzeo continued.

“With the legislature, the executive branch and the federal courts now seemingly in agreement on this matter, I hope we can see this become a reality sooner rather than later given the tens of millions of dollars in additional revenue that the state stands to reap from this industry,” he said.

“The only way to assure Atlantic City’s comeback is to continue working in concert with one another. It is my hope that the dialogue we are starting today will turn into real progress tomorrow and in the months to follow. We owe it to Atlantic City and the thousands of workers seeking employment to act now to put this historic city back on the path to success,” he continued.

Mazzeo said that despite the recent casino closings, lawmakers are taking steps to transition Atlantic City from a gaming town to a more all-encompassing tourist destination.

In 2012 New Jersey passed the Sports Wagering Act to license and regulate the extensive sports wagering that already was going on within the State. New Jersey was then sued in federal court based on a statute from 1992 – the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act – which prohibits the state from authorizing or licensing sports betting.

Relying on PASPA, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Shipp issued an injunction in February 2013 enjoining the imposition of New Jersey’s comprehensive licensing and oversight regime.

The governor’s motion sought clarification or modification to the injunction. Based on the arguments of the sports leagues and the Department of Justice, the Third Circuit already ruled that New Jersey can carry out sports wagering as described in the statewide directive. The motion simply would clarify and formalize that authority and give clear guidance to casinos and racetracks waiting to open a sports pool in New Jersey, according to the governor’s office.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently upheld the District Court’s action, but, at the same time, made clear that New Jersey was free to remove prohibitions against sports wagering.  The Third Circuit’s decision mirrored the express arguments of both the sports leagues and the United States Department of Justice, both of which stated that nothing in PASPA prohibited New Jersey from removing its prohibitions against sports wagering.

 

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