By Hilary Russ
(Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday agreed to review its previous decision blocking legal sports betting in New Jersey, in a case closely watched by other states wishing to legalize such gambling.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit tossed out an Aug. 25 decision made by a three-member panel of its judges so that the entire court could reconsider the case.
A win for New Jersey could lead other states to begin similar efforts to legalize sports betting, or it could cause Congress to reconsider its 1992 ban on the activity in all but four states.
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 federal ban.
New Jersey lost the case, but it tried again last year with new legislation that attempts an end-run around the 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 the state came up short before the Third Circuit's three-judge panel in August. The New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, among others pushing to legalize sports wagering in the Garden State, in September asked the full court to review the panel's decision, saying its reasoning was the "exact opposite" of its previous decision in the case.
(Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Andrew Hay)