NJ to appeal ruling that keeps ban on sports betting: Christie

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 01, 2013 7:49 PM
NJ to appeal ruling that keeps ban on sports betting: Christie

By Hilary Russ

(Reuters) - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and state lawmakers vowed on Friday to continue fighting to legalize sports betting after a federal judge struck down a law that would have allowed it.

The New Jersey law, which Christie signed last year, had authorized sports betting at the state's racetracks and at Atlantic City casinos.

But U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp issued a permanent injunction against the new law late on Thursday, saying that a 1992 federal law that blocked New Jersey from implementing sports wagering does not violate the state's rights under the U.S. Constitution.

Four states that had already legalized sports betting at the time were grandfathered into the 1992 law and allowed to continue. New Jersey had one year to opt in, but never did.

"We are confident that the federal court of appeals will conclude that New Jersey should be treated equally with other states," Christie said in a statement on Friday.

A slew of leagues, including the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League, sued the state in August, saying the law would violate the federal restrictions on sports betting.

New Jersey officials hoped that legalized sports wagering would help bring in more revenue for Atlantic City's struggling gambling industry.

"Sports gambling can provide hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue to the state, creating jobs and economic growth," Senate President Steve Sweeney said in a statement.

Atlantic City casinos have lost customers to a spate of new casinos opening up in nearby states, and are hoping that the state's legalization of online gaming on Tuesday will boost revenues.

(Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Richard Chang)