New Jersey sued by NCAA, pro sports leagues

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It was just ten weeks ago that NJ Governor Chris Christie boldly declared his plans to proceed with establishing sportsbooks in Atlantic City. The outspoken head honcho of the Garden State barked the following: “If someone wants to stop us, then let them try to stop us." The remark turned into a very polarizing soundbite, which might have been what Christie hoped for.

"Am I expecting there may be legal action taken against us to try to prevent it? Yes. But I have every confidence we're going to be successful," Christie stated, brimming with his trademark confidence.

His colorful delivery aside, Christie correctly forecasted that there would in fact be legal action taken against New Jersey as it inched closer toward propping up a tote board and making book in Atlantic City. That day has arrived.

The NCAA and the four major pro sports leagues filed a lawsuit today in Trenton federal court. The leagues believe that allowing sports gambling in New Jersey would threaten the sanctity of the games. The purity of the games is what the leagues seek to protect, while turning a blind eye to the enormous interest and in turn viewership created by bettors.

The leagues' agenda aside, Gov. Christie doesn't seem too worried. "I don't believe that the federal government has the right to decide that only certain states can have sports gambling. On what basis?" Christie purposefully stated.

Christie was referring to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. Under PASPA, sports betting nationwide is outlawed with the exception of Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana. Nevada is the largest beneficiary under PASPA, while Delaware has limited forms of sports wagering in their B&M establishments.

Sportsbook interviewed NJ State Senator Raymond Lesniak in March, who predicted all along that New Jersey would soon be knocking on the sportsbook gambling door, stating that New Jersey would become "the silicon valley" of gaming.

As passionate as Gov. Christie is, his tune has markedly changed since vetoing an internet gambling bill in March of 2011, citing regulatory concerns. Sen. Lesniak stated that the move cost NJ approximately $200 million in lost revenue.

US gaming law expert Professor I. Nelson Rose stated in an exclusive interview with SBR that he believes that Gov. Christie's current motivation could be in part fueled by his national political aspirations. Whatever the case may be, Gov. Christie has gone too far to throw in the towel now.

If New Jersey is successful in amending PASPA, a domino effect may begin with other states vying to open their own sportsbooks. Gov. Christie will be remembered as either the catalyst of legitimizing sportsbooks in the US, or a man who fell on his sword in the face of the powerful sports leagues and US federal government.

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