New Jersey Betting Big on Legal Sports Wagering

After previous attempts to legalize sports betting in New Jersey have stalled, New Jersey appears to once again be pushing to make sports betting legal within its borders. Back in 2012, Governor Chris Christie signed legislation that purported to legalize sports betting in New Jersey. The proposed law was a partial repeal of anti-sports betting laws that carved out exceptions that allowed betting at specific locations; namely racetracks and casinos. The NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB quickly took legal action against the new legislation. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the leagues and against the New Jersey law. New Jersey has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

Previous attempts by New Jersey to legalize sports betting involved partial repeals to its own sports betting bans. The laws created exceptions to the bans at certain locations. The courts have found that these carved out exceptions violate the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA); the federal prohibition on state-sponsored sports betting.

New Jersey’s current effort to legalize sports betting goes even further than its previous attempts; it is a full repeal of the state’s prohibition on sports wagering law. Assembly Bill 4304 removes and repeals, “all prohibitions, permit, licenses and authorizations concerning wagers on professional, collegiate, or amateur sports contests or athletic events.” New Jersey believes that this full repeal, rather than partial exceptions, would not violate the PASPA.

There are obvious issues with New Jersey’s current proposal. The most glaring is that as currently proposed, there would be absolutely no restrictions on who could make wagers and where those wagers could be made. The state could later attempt to add restrictions to the bill, but the details remain murky. It is clear that this is a work in progress. Many questions still need to be answered before sports bets can legally be made in New Jersey.

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