Christie and the Horsemen Ask the Third Circuit to Vacate Injunction & Open the Door to Sports Betting in NJ

On Wednesday, January 14, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie filed a brief with the Third Circuit US Court of Appeals, seeking to overturn the district court decision enjoining recent legislation that would open the door to some sports gambling in New Jersey.

The 2014 law in question was passed to effectuate a partial repeal of prior New Jersey law that prohibits betting on sports within the state.  The partial repeal would allow casinos and racetracks within the State of New Jersey to facilitate sports betting.  The NCAA and many professional sports organizations brought this suit seeking an injunction to stop the partial repeal of anti-betting laws.  In November 2014, the US District Court for the District of New Jersey granted the injunction, stating that both the language and congressional intent of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act prohibits states from authorizing any sports betting.

Now on appeal at the Third Circuit, the New Jersey government is joined by the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association in seeking to vacate the injunction.  The parties argue that the 2014 Act is self-executing and thus not preempted by PASPA.  Additionally, they argue that PASPA only preempts authorizations of betting, not repeals of law that would result in the legalization of betting on sports.

Christie has also found a potential ally in his battle, ongoing since 2010, in NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.  While the NBA is an adverse party in the action, the commissioner suggested to Governor Christie he would join in lobbying Congress to legalize betting nationally.  Christie, however not persuaded, would rather lead the way and be the model for other states to legalize sports betting.

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