By Jessica Dye
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. college and professional sports leagues filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to stop New Jersey's plans to legalize sports betting.
The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for New Jersey says that a law signed in January to allow sports betting at the state's racetracks and at Atlantic City casinos violates a broad federal ban on wagering on sports events.
The suit was brought by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball.
The law, signed by Governor Chris Christie, is expected to be fully implemented this fall. Once it is, New Jersey racetracks and casinos will be allowed to apply for licenses and open gambling operations for amateur and professional sports.
Betting on college events taking place in New Jersey, or any event involving a New Jersey college team, would still be prohibited.
Betting is outlawed in most U.S. states on all sports with the exception on horse racing.
The leagues said in the lawsuit that allowing New Jersey to open sports gambling would "irreparably harm amateur and professional sports by fostering suspicion that individual plays and final scores of games may have been influenced by factors other than honest athletic competition."
They also said the New Jersey law was precluded by the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, passed by Congress in 1992 to impose a broad ban on sports gambling. Its few exceptions include one for a handful of states like Nevada where sports gambling had been previously legalized.
Christie has said he anticipated some sort of legal action to try to block the law but would go ahead with the gambling plan.
Christie's office did not immediately return a call for comment. The New Jersey Racing Commission and Department of Gambling Enforcement had no immediate comment on the lawsuit. The case is NCAA et al. v. Chris Christie et al., in the U.S. District Court for New Jersey.
(Reporting by Jessica Dye; Editing by David Storey)
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