Christie Legalizes Sports Betting at New Jersey Casinos and Racetracks

09/15/2014 - In February of last year New Jersey Governor Chris Christie legalized betting on sporting events in the Garden State. The NBA, NCAA and NFL teams playing in New Jersey cried foul, and a ruling was handed down by the feds that shut down any sports betting operations before they had a chance to get started in that state. Earlier this year Christie filed an appeal with the US Supreme Court, asking them to hear his state's argument for legalizing sports betting. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case, so New Jersey was still without any sportsbook operations for their licensed state gambling industry. This situation has for years allowed reputable and established offshore Internet sports betting sites to legally offer their services to New Jersey and US residents, but the governor of the great state of New Jersey wants to keep that money at home. That is why he issued a directive on Monday, September 8, which empowers his state's racetracks and casinos to offer sports betting from their land-based operations.

New Jersey College Exclusion, Casino and Racetrack Exclusivity May Prevail This Time Around

This will no doubt to draw the ire of federal authorities, who have already blocked Christie's plans for sports betting in the past. However, this time Christie is suggesting that sports betting be limited to physical casinos and racetracks. The bill he passed last year could have licensed any brick-and-mortar operation for a sports betting license. As of Tuesday, the National Football League had no comment when they were reached by ESPN reporters. There is also no early word from the NCAA. And this time around, Governor Christie may be doing things a little wiser. Coupled with his directive, the governor simultaneously filed a motion in federal court asking for clarification or modification of the February 2013 ruling which blocked the sports gambling licensing program he had put in place. In Chris Christie's opinion, "sports betting is legal under previous federal rulings," as long is no betting takes place on college games played in New Jersey, or on college teams based in New Jersey when they play elsewhere.

Senator Lesniak Announces "Victory at Last" for Legal NJ Sports Betting

NJ Senator Raymond Lesniak has been a staunch supporter of gambling in New Jersey for some time. After hearing the Christie directive, he exclaimed, "Victory at last!" Not wasting any time in trying to help a flagging hotel and casino industry, Lesniak proclaimed that, "People should book their hotel rooms in Atlantic City for the Super Bowl now because there won't be any available in February." When asked what his opinion was about the next move for major sports leagues which operate in his state, Lesniak assured reporters that there were definitely going to be objections coming from the NBA, NFL, NCAA and other leagues. But he also said that sports leagues in New Jersey do not "have any arguments left to make." He went on to state that it is his belief that sports gambling in land-based casinos and racetracks in New Jersey is here to stay, and that it "is all over but the shouting."

PASPA Tramples NJ Residents' Rights – Lesniak, Christie

The move was definitely directed for the Monday time slot when it was revealed. Just hours later, Governor Christie convened a "no press" gathering of key New Jersey power-brokers and legislators to discuss the future of Atlantic City. Three casinos in that state have been closed this year, a full 25% of the small seaside state's offerings. And a fourth casino is preparing to close its doors next week, with more than 8,000 casino workers losing their jobs since January of this year. What Christie, Lesniak and other New Jersey legislators have been protesting is the intervention of federal authorities where they believe their state rights are being trampled. And overwhelmingly, the voters of New Jersey have backed sports betting ever since they agreed to a referendum in 2011. However, Congress pointed to the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) as sufficient reason for stepping in and trumping the state-based decision, even though the residents of New Jersey voted for sports betting.

Missed 1991 Deadline Created Current NJ Sports Betting Absence

Oddly enough, back in 1991, Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon joined New Jersey as potential grandfather clause benefactors when PASPA was being proposed. New Jersey was the only state that missed a filing deadline which would have allowed sports betting in Atlantic City, just as it is currently offered in the casinos in Nevada. What ramifications does this have on current New Jersey residents that want to enjoy some responsible adult sports betting? If a NJ sports bettor accesses an established, non-US online sportsbook, there are many viable and reputable choices. Several companies have been filling the sports betting void for New Jersey and other US citizens for decades, and there are a few that do a great job at it. Aside from those legal online options, for the time being sports betting in land-based casinos and at racetracks in the Garden State is back in business.