New Jersey tries another end run around sports betting ban

November 1, 2016 GMT

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Two state lawmakers are trying an end run around a federal ban on sports betting in all but four states.

Democratic state Assemblymen Ralph Caputo and John Burzichelli have introduced a bill to repeal all New Jersey laws and regulations prohibiting and regulating sports betting.

It’s a reaction to New Jersey’s setback in August when a federal appeals court invalidated a 2014 law that would have allowed sports betting at casinos and racetracks. Sports law attorney Daniel Wallach said the court felt the measure didn’t go far enough in repealing state rules and regulations because it carved out an exception for casinos and racetracks.


The new bill would remove all restrictions on sports betting, anywhere in the state, by anyone, at any time. Wallach said the state could then move to reintroduce some restrictions without violating the language of the Professional and Amateur Sports Betting Act of 1992.

New Jersey has been trying since 2009 to either overturn that law or find a way around it. The measure limits sports betting to the four states that met a 1991 deadline to legalize it within their borders: Nevada, Oregon, Montana and Delaware.

The state’s horse racing industry is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether New Jersey can offer sports betting. The court has already declined to hear a previous version of the state’s case once before.

“They will not stop — the state, the casino industry, the racetracks, New Jersey lawmakers will do whatever it takes to land sports betting,” Wallach said.

The most recent loss in federal court involved a 2014 attempt to get around the federal ban.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found New Jersey’s law repealing prohibitions against sports gambling violated the federal ban.

The latest bill, introduced Oct. 27, makes clear that New Jersey is removing every last shred of prohibition or regulation of sports betting — something the federal government acknowledged the state has the power to do.

But that would create a host of new issues: with no rules, even children would be free to engage in sports betting, and it could be conducted anywhere, by anyone.

That’s why the state would likely move to add “limited restrictions” afterward, as envisioned by a federal judge who issued a dissenting opinion that sided with New Jersey.

“There have got to be things added to this,” Caputo said. “A lot brighter people than me have worked on this and they haven’t found the ultimate answer yet.”


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