NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie says he'll take the fight to legalize sports gambling in New Jersey to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.
Even after a recent federal court defeat, Christie said Thursday he plans to continue his push for sports betting in his state.
Last month, a federal judge in Trenton upheld a 1992 law that bans sports gambling in New Jersey and 45 other states. Only Nevada, Oregon, Montana and Delaware are exempt. The four major pro sports leagues and the NCAA have sued to stop New Jersey's efforts.
"I'm appealing it, so if they (the NCAA) think I've changed my mind, they're wrong. I'll appeal it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if I can, and will," Christie said after visiting a group home in Robbinsville for people with disabilities.
The state must first appeal the judge's ruling to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A defeat there would leave the Supreme Court as the last legal avenue, though there is also the option of amending the 1992 law in Congress. Two New Jersey congressmen have proposed bills that would give New Jersey and other states the chance to approve legal sports betting.
Christie made his remarks a day after the NCAA told The Associated Press it has reversed a ban on New Jersey hosting NCAA-sanctioned championship events. It put the ban in place last year after Christie vowed to move ahead with plans to license sports betting operators.
The ban cost Trenton the chance to host first- and second-round NCAA women's Division I basketball tournament games this year and may have cost Newark's Prudential Center arena a chance to play host to an NCAA men's basketball regional in 2015. Some New Jersey college teams have had to play individual tournament games away from campus that they normally would have hosted.
Christie said the NCAA has the right as a private organization not to choose venues like the Prudential Center to host tournament games, but he noted that the economic impact of that decision is far less than the impact of keeping sports betting illegal.
Associated Press writer Angela Delli Santi contributed to this story from Robbinsville, N.J.