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Court Ruling to Decide the Fate of Sports Betting in New Jersey

Sep 23, 2014 - by Monica Erdei
Gambling operators in New Jersey await a court decision on betting on sports scores

Gambling operators in New Jersey await a court decision on betting on sports scores

Officials had plans to open a sports betting service at the New Jersey race tracks as soon as possible, but it looks like they need more time.

At the beginning of September, Governor Chris Christie’s administration took one more step to help New Jersey’s gambling industry grow, by issuing a directive that made it legal for casinos and racetracks to offer sports betting services.

But it looks like there are more hurdles to pass before New Jersey players can legally place wager on sports scores, as the decision was challenged by professional sports leagues. These are the same organizations which fought the state’s efforts to reverse the ban on sports betting, when the US Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

The governor said he did his research and found no trace of previous federal court rulings prohibiting casinos and horse racing tracks from offering sports betting. Now the topic has become a widely debated issue, with a federal ruling expected on October 6.

Miami Herald: New Jersey track extends date for sports betting

The management of the racetrack had plans to open the sportsbook in 45 days, or at least by the end of October. Dennis Drazin, a legal adviser to Monmouth Park, was even more optimistic, hoping to get things going on the first weekend after the directive was issued.

Now the racetrack announced it was taking its time with the big launch, giving the federal judge time to rule on the legality of the directive issued by the New Jersey administration. The court decision is expected to be issued on October 6.

Recent online gambling news wrote that Monmouth Park needs more time to set up phone lines and Internet connections for the operation, as well as to hire 111 new employees. The racetrack is planning on establishing its own private association to regulate sports betting, since the state hasn’t taken care of this. Other casinos or racetracks will be welcome to join the group.

While the legal adviser said he would start taking bets as soon as possible, a Meadowlands Racetrack spokeswoman for the said the establishment wasn’t planning on offering such services for now.

Houston Chronicle: Q&A: New Jersey’s sports gambling push

After Government Chris Christie issued an order this September, saying that racetracks and casinos won’t be prosecuted for taking wagers on sports event, legal issues are still waiting to be resolved before establishments actually start accepting bets. The Houston Chronicle offers answers to some of the most common questions surrounding the issue.

If you want to know why no one is offering sports betting yet, you should know that racetracks and casinos are still waiting for a federal judge to rule on the legality of the new directive. The New Jersey Legislature might also need to take further action before operators launch these services.

The professional sports leagues who sued Christie in 2012 to stop sports wagering in the state have not taken any legal action against the September 8 order yet, but they are probably also waiting for the judge to rule on the issue before proceeding.

Monmouth Park Racetrack officials have already indicated they’d be willing to take bets as soon as possible. The racetrack is even working with a sports betting firm, preparing a room to be used for the new service.

NJ.com: Quigley: Sports betting banned? Don’t bet on it

Good news for New Jersey players eager to put money on sports event. Governor Christie made sportsbooks legal in the state, and Monmouth Park promised to offer these services real soon. Some limitations might be imposed, such as betting on games played in state or being played by New Jersey colleges, but apart from that, sports wagering might get the green light through racetracks and casinos.

In 1992, when Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, sports betting became illegal in all but four states. Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana already permitted such wagering, so they were exempt from the rules. A recent poll showed New Jersey residents were two-to-one in favor, but until recently the activity has been illegal.

After four Atlantic City casinos closed this summer, reread an old court decision and concluded that as long as New Jersey did not officially “authorize” sports betting, the state would not get into any legal trouble. This is how the Governor decided he would issue an order saying that entities running sports betting activities would not be prosecuted.

The state treasury is bound to gain from ordinary corporate business taxes, while racetracks and casinos will benefit from an increased client base.

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