New Jersey has once again had their plan to bring legal sports betting to Atlantic City casinos denied.
The US Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Garden State Tuesday and sided with the four major US professional sports leagues and the NCAA in overturning the state's law allowing sports betting.
NJ Governor Chris Christie signed legislation authorizing sports betting in the state after a voter's referendum in 2011, but the major sports leagues and NCAA quickly filed suit against the state before casinos could obtain permits from the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement. The state ultimately lost this case and revised their legislation allowing sports betting in 2014.
New Jersey has been entangled in legal motions for the better part of the last four years. State Senator Raymond Lesniak remains optimistic that the Supreme Court will ultimately decide to hear the case: "It's a long shot, but at least we have two dissenting votes on our side," said Lesniak, who SBR interviewed last football season. Lesniak was referring to two out of twelve judges who did not rule in favor of the sports leagues.
At the heart of the court's ruling against the state is federal statute The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 ("PASPA"), which limits sports betting to Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana.
The American Gaming Association ("AGA") has argued vehemently for PASPA to be repealed so that the sports betting industry can be regulated: "Law enforcement, mayors, leaders in sports, fans and many others agree that it's time for a regulated sports betting marketplace that protects consumers, communities and the integrity of sports we enjoy. AGA is building a broad coalition of stakeholders that will achieve a practical, modern day solution," said the AGA in a public statement.
SBR Forum members reacted immediately to the news. SBR Forum user Brock Landers suggested that change has to come from a federal level. New Jersey officials are hoping that a thousand legal papercuts will be enough to force the Supreme Court to take a peek at the case.
Despite the warm embrace that the fantasy sports betting industry has received from the sports leagues, betting on individual games remains a pastime which is only widely available for Americans with online sportsbooks based outside of the United States. The NBA is somewhat of an outsider in that although it will march to the beat of the federal legislative drum, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been outspoken on the need for a regulated gaming market and even wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times to that effect.
Online sportsbooks and their loyal customer base do have their challenges, though. The passage of the UIGEA makes it harder to use a credit card or ACH based option to fund betting accounts. The transactional difficulty has led many players to discover new and alternative ways to make a sports bet without the inconvenience of leaving their homes: Bitcoin.
Until placing a bet is as convenient in every US state as it is in Nevada, online sportsbooks will continue to serve the American market and wait for the opportunity to do so legally. Online bookmaker WilliamHill purchased a casino in Las Vegas, and the advent of online gambling with land based casinos has led to the creation of more jobs and taxable revenue for Nevada, which is a pie that New Jersey would like a slice from.
Sportsbook Review will keep readers updated on New Jersey's fight for legal sports betting.