Odds May Be Better For New Jersey Sports Wagering

New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, issued a directive that allows the state’s casinos and racetracks to offer sports betting. Governor Christie based his directive on a Third Circuit court ruling that said New Jersey is not necessarily prohibited from repealing its ban on sports wagering.

However, many believe that Governor Christie is exploiting a loophole in a federal law. The law bans states from setting up regulatory schemes for sports betting, but allows the state to deregulate gambling, rather than regulate it. Governor Christie argues that casinos and racetracks would not be licensed for sports betting but would be free to offer it.

New Jersey voters endorsed sports betting in a 2011 referendum that was passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor Christie. However, sports leagues were successful in challenging that law, and will likely do the same with Christie’s recent directive. Opponents of sports betting argue that the integrity of the game is compromised by sports betting, especially in collegiate athletics.

Acting state Attorney General John Hoffman stated that there is nothing in New Jersey law that “prevents casinos and racetracks from operating a sports pool.” Governor Christie suggested that casinos and  racetracks could offer betting immediately, but several casino executives have no immediate plans to do so. Atlantic City lawyer, Lloyd Levenson, said he expects the casinos to wait for a further court ruling before they launch sports betting.

Governor Christie stressed that betting would be prohibited on college sports taking place in New Jersey or on New Jersey college teams that play outside of the state. Although Governor Christie is optimistic for New Jersey betting, Atlantic City casinos will likely holdout due to a federal court’s 2013 injunction that prevents New Jersey from enacting sports betting.

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