It has been an interesting last few years for sports betting in the Garden State.
Back in 2011, New Jersey voters approved a ballot measure to amend the state constitution to allow for sports betting. The measure was passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Chris Christie the following year. Then, according to the Star-Ledger, in 2012, a group of sports organizations including the NCAA, the NBA, MLB, the NFL, and the NHL, along with the U.S. Department of Justice, all sued to block the law from going into effect. The plaintiffs argued successfully that New Jersey’s efforts were in violation of a 1992 act of U.S. Congress that prohibits gambling except in states where it was grandfathered in at the time, including Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana. New Jersey had the option to opt into that list back in 1992, but state lawmakers voted it down at the time.
Since 1992, New Jersey’s efforts to overturn the federal law have twice been rejected by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Then in June 2014, after years of efforts by Gov. Christie and other New Jersey lawmakers, they tried appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court refused to grant a certiori and therefore would not hear the case.
In August 2014, Gov. Christie had little choice but to reject a bill from lawmakers that would have authorized sports betting.
However, over rallying cries of state’s rights, local lawmakers vowed to keep fighting. Last month, the New Jersey Attorney General John J. Hoffman issued what experts called an “unexpected directive” to allow sports betting at casinos and horse racking tracks, and asked the Third Circuit to rule on the matter. If and when New Jersey opens up to sports betting is anyone’s guess, but gaming advocates in the Garden State don’t appear to be showing any signs of throwing in the towel.
With more than 35 years of experience representing professional athletes, individuals and businesses in the areas of sports law and business litigation, James J. “Jim” Thomas II is recognized as an expert across Georgia. If you or your business needs assistance in sports law, business ventures, handling complex business litigation, or in the analysis, evaluation, and resolution of existing and potential litigation in sports law cases, give Jim a call at 404-869-5248 or email him today to set up a consultation.