An Uphill Task Ahead For Legal Sports Betting In New Jersey

Not long ago, New Jersey woke up to the sad news that the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals has decided to uphold the prohibition imposed on gambling in sports in the state of New Jersey.

The ruling was based on the premise that it violated a key statute of the federal law known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). This act makes it illegal for any state, apart from Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon, to indulge in activities such as sponsoring, authorizing or undertaking licensing of betting in sports.

The legal battle is waged between the state of New Jersey and the four major sports league namely Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL) , National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Both parties have locked horns over this issue since 2012.

The New Jersey law underwent a strict scrutiny by 12 active judges of the Third Circuit. The court room drama has bought two former U.S. Solicitors General face to face.  The state was represented by Ted Olson and the four sports leagues and NCAA was represented by Paul Clement.

The whole case revolves around the State’s desire to remove the prohibitions imposed on New Jersey that prohibits betting in sports. The leagues are opposing this move as they believe that it would make them vulnerable to unethical behavior such as sportsmen and trainers willingly throwing away games in order to win the bets.

The leagues tasted success in last August when a 3 member panel ruled that the State’s intent to legitimize betting in sports violates the PASPA. In February this year, the state of New Jersey requested of an en Blanc hearing which is granted only under exceptional turn of events.

The state argued that they were seeking only a partial repeal of the prohibition imposed on sports betting. It does not intent to provide license or authorize any organization to conduct sports betting. The state also expressed its intention to curb the growing black market practices in the betting industry.

But the state was left disappointed again as the panel ruled in favor of the leagues by 10-to-2 vote.  Matthew Stiegler who is an appellate lawyer said that the petition was rejected by the most conservative judges and most liberal judges alike. The clean sweep majority for the league handed over a resounding defeat to the state of New Jersey.