New Jersey will allow legal sports betting at the state’s casinos and racetracks, according to a directive issued by Gov. Chris Christie on Monday. The bets will be legal as long as they are not made on New Jersey-based sporting events or on N.J. college sports team.
Christie’s office said that nothing in New Jersey law would prevent the state’s casinos and racetracks from hosting sports books. N.J. officials believe that they can repeal existing state laws that block sports betting without explicitly authorizing its existence.
“The Sports Wagering Act provides that a casino or racetrack 'may operate a sports pool.' Accordingly, sports pools operated by casinos are racetracks are exempted from criminal liability so long as no wagering occurs on a college sport or athletic event that takes place in New Jersey or in which any New Jersey college team participates regardless of where the event takes place,” wrote John J. Hoffman, New Jersey’s acting Attorney General, in the directive. “Accordingly, I hereby instruct that the Department of Law and Public Safety shall not object to or seek civilly to enjoin a sports pool operated by a casino or racetrack to the extent that it is conducted in a manner consistent with this Formal Opinion.”
Christie also filed a U.S. District Court motion requesting that a federal judge clarify a February 2013 injunction upholding a federal law outlawing state-sponsored sports gambling in all but four states.
"The motion simply would clarify and formalize that authority and give clear guidance to casinos and racetracks waiting to open a sports pool in New Jersey," Christie’s office said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.
The move will likely be opposed by the United States’ professional sports leagues in football, baseball, basketball and hockey as well as the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Each organization has already stated its opposition to the legalization of sports gambling in New Jersey under the umbrella of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, the 1992 law which outlawed state-sponsored sports gambling in all but four states.
In 2012, New Jersey's bid to challenge the law in U.S. District Court ended in defeat, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case, ESPN reported. Christie himself vetoed a measure in August that would have circumvented a federal law to allow sports-related gambling in the state, stating “that the rule of law is sacrosanct, binding on all Americans.”
For New Jersey, the presence of legal sports betting would provide much-needed aid to Atlantic City's struggling casinos. If allowed, sports gambling could bring in more than $100 million per year in revenue.