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New Jersey Betting on 3rd Circuit to Revive Sports Gambling Law

By Robyn Hagan Cain on March 15, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Atlantic City is New Jersey’s second-city of gambling, so why shouldn’t New Jersey be able to offer visitors that same perks that Nevada receives?

No, no. New Jersey isn’t asking for those extra-perky perks. The Garden State just wants sports gambling. Except sports betting violates federal law in most states.

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), also known as the Bradley Act, makes it unlawful to bet, gamble, or wager "on one or more competitive games in which amateur or professional athletes participate, or are intended to participate, or on one or more performances of such athletes in such games." Four states that had statutorily-approved, pre-existing sports gaming laws received exemptions from the Bradley Act: Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana, according to Bloomberg. The Washington Post reports that Nevada and Delaware remain the only states where betters can legally gamble on college and pro sports.

After passing a state law to allow sports betting, New Jersey is engaged in federal court battle to defend its law. And it's up against some pretty athletic competition: the NCAA, NFL, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball asked a federal court to block the law, Bloomberg reports. The Department of Justice is also opposed to the measure.

According to New Jersey, it's unconstitutional to use PASPA to thwart the state's sports gambling law. The state also argued that the federal law tramples state sovereignty. "We believe firmly in the principles of our position on sports betting and that the federal ban is inequitable, violates New Jersey's rights as a state and is unconstitutional," Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg. A federal district court disagreed.

U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs, noting "Congress has chosen through PASPA to limit the geographic localities in which sports wagering is lawful. It does no more or less. The court, therefore, cannot conclude that PASPA usurps state sovereignty. The fact that gambling might be considered an area subject to the states' traditional police powers does not change this conclusion," Courthouse News reports.

Wednesday, the state appealed Judge Shipp's decision. Now, the ball is in the Third Circuit's court.

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