(Reuters) - New Jersey's horse racing industry on Tuesday asked a federal appeals court to review its decision blocking legal sports gambling in the state.
The state's push to legalize the activity is being widely watched because a win for New Jersey could lead other states to begin similar efforts, or it could cause Congress to reconsider its 1992 ban on sports betting in all but four states.
But New Jersey has so far been on the losing side. Governor Chris Christie, lawmakers and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association on Aug. 25 lost an appeal before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia.
The National Football League, three other sports leagues and the National Collegiate Athletic Association sued after New Jersey lawmakers legalized sports betting in 2012. The leagues and the NCAA said that violated the 1992 federal ban.
New Jersey lost the case, but it tried again last year with new legislation that attempts an end-run around the federal ban - which prohibits states from authorizing, sponsoring, operating or licensing the practice - by essentially removing state control and deregulating sports wagering at casinos and race tracks.
But New Jersey and its horse racing industry lost that case too, and came up short before the three-judge panel. The horsemen have now asked the full Third Circuit to review the panel's Aug. 25 decision, saying its reasoning was the "exact opposite" of the previous decision in the case. That would put the court in conflict with itself, they argued in a brief filed on Tuesday.
The horsemen's association, which operates Monmouth Park Racetrack in the state, argued that the park needs a revenue boost from sports betting. If the park had to close it would "likely mean the end of New Jersey's equine industry," and a "similar fate may befall Atlantic City," where four of its 12 casinos close last year.
(Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)