Sports Betting
New Jersey has been trying to legalize sports betting since 2011. That is when voters approved sports betting in a nonbinding referendum. This gave state legislators the green light to pass a bill and they did, almost unanimously.

Governor Chris Christie signed the bill into law in January 2012.

It immediately drew reaction from four professional sports leagues and the NCAA. The U.S. Department of Justice also took notice. The group filed a lawsuit to stop sports betting in New Jersey.

The argument was that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act made it illegal for New Jersey to regulate sports betting. The plaintiffs stipulated that New Jersey could decriminalize sports betting, but not regulate it. The lawsuit prevailed in the lower courts. In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

On September 8, 2014, Governor Christie issued an order that lifted the ban on sports betting. This was interesting because Gov. Christie vetoed a bill that essentially did the same thing in August 2014. New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman made sure that law enforcement was aware of the change in state position.

The opinion is that the portion of New Jersey’s law that repealed sports betting withstood the court challenge.

Gov. Christie signed a bill into law that made the state’s legal position official on October 17, 2014. It repeals all prohibitions of sports betting at any gaming establishment, including racetracks and New Jersey casinos.

The NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and NCAA filed an injunction request asserting that New Jersey sports betting would cause irreparable harm to their businesses. The courts granted a temporary injunction on October 24, 2014. The judge in the case later sided with the sports leagues.

In March 2015, New Jersey and the sports leagues presented arguments before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. New Jersey argued that its law was in line with the previous ruling from the court. New Jersey felt like the Third Circuit gave guidance to the state as to how it could work within the limits of PASPA. The sports leagues claimed that repealing prohibition at gaming establishments was no different than regulating the activity.

A ruling by the Third Circuit sided with the sports leagues. The nation’s highest court refused to hear the first case, which New Jersey also lost in the Third Circuit.

New Jersey sports betting FAQ

When can I bet on sports in New Jersey?

Monmouth Park will likely be the first sports betting venue. The date depends on a high court ruling in favor of New Jersey or the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.

What is the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act?

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act passed in 1992.

It exempted four states – Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon – but banned all other states from legalizing sports betting. The four exempted states can only offer sports betting it offered before the act went into effect.

New Jersey had one year to legalize sports betting. It failed to act in time.

What sports betting is legal in PASPA’s exempted states?

Nevada offers a full slate of sports betting.

Delaware offers NFL parlay cards through its lottery. Montana spreads NFL and NASCAR fantasy sports betting.

The Oregon Lottery offered Sports Action starting in 1989. It sold NFL parlay cards, and for one year NBA parlays were also accepted. Oregon dissolved Sports Action after the 2006 NFL season.

Where will sports bets be accepted?

New Jersey racetracks and casinos in Atlantic City will be able to book sports bets if the law is deemed legal.

What sporting events would be included in NJ sports betting?

Bets will be accepted on all professional sporting events. College sports betting will also be available. The exception is collegiate events played in New Jersey or involving teams from the state.

What colleges are excluded?

While betting on all colleges located in New Jersey will be illegal, Rutgers and Seton Hall are the major 1A colleges in the state.

Does this include fantasy sports?

Betting on fantasy sports was already legal. No Atlantic City casinos have launched fantasy betting.

Will New Jersey tax and regulate the NJ sports betting industry?

According to SFGate, Governor Chris Christie said at a news conference “state government would have no role in either regulating or taxing sports books” and “…he would not encourage or discourage casinos or racetracks to get into the business.”

Last updated: January 2017.

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