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New Jersey sports betting debate ignores reality

chris-christie Getty Images

When I opened the Sunday edition of the Clarksburg (W. Va.) Exponent-Telegram (yes, some of us Internet hacks still read the newspaper), I came across a column from Tim Dahlberg of the Associated Press regarding New Jersey’s new intention to permit wagering on sports, including the NFL.  Dahlberg’s item, which presumably appeared in every Sunday paper that subscribes to the AP, contends that the time has come to acknowledge that gambling on the NFL happens, and that it may as well happen legally.

But Dahlberg overlooks one fairly important reality.  Even if Governor Chris Christie thinks a 1992 federal law can be defeated in court, New Jersey belongs to the Third Judicial Circuit.  And Delaware belongs to the Third Judicial Circuit.  And Delaware tried to embark on single-game sports wagering in 2009.  And the NFL and other sports leagues sued Delaware.  And a federal judge in Delaware agreed with the NFL and other sports leagues.

And the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the decision.

The fact that Delaware and New Jersey are in the same judicial circuit means that this case most likely is over before it even begins.  The issue is settled; the federal law prohibiting sports gambling beyond any programs that states had in place between 1976 and 1990 has been upheld by the same appeals court to which any case against New Jersey would eventually go.  (An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court could change the outcome, but the Supreme Court refused to hear the Delaware case.)

So while Dahlberg may be right in theory, in practice he wasted his words writing about the subject.  This one is going nowhere, and it’s only a matter of time before the NFL releases the houndstooth jackets to slam the door in Christie’s face.

The deeper question remains why does the NFL care about gambling on pro football games?  We continue to believe that, if sports gambling becomes legalized and thus legitimized, there will be more and more pressure on the NFL to ensure that every call made in every game is accurate, forcing the league to employ officials on a full-time basis, expand the use of instant replay, and fend off periodic charges that the outcomes are fixed as millions of legally wagered dollars change hands (or don’t) based on a garbage-time touchdown that maybe shouldn’t have been ruled a touchdown.

Though the NFL currently may be involved in some court cases that it could lose, chances are that the forthcoming case of the National Football League et al. v. New Jersey will result in a victory for the NFL.

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39 Responses to “New Jersey sports betting debate ignores reality”
  1. giorgiom3 says: May 27, 2012 12:21 PM

    While it’s extremely unlikely to happen, nothing would make me happier than sports betting being legal in NJ. Don’t understand how it’s a federal ban yet is permitted in multiple states…hmm….

  2. billinva says: May 27, 2012 12:23 PM

    If the NFL is so against gambling, why do they structure the injury reports, and inactive lists the way they do?

    Hypocrites.

  3. kungfubillysims says: May 27, 2012 12:24 PM

    Chris Christie will simply eat anyone who stands in his way.
    I’d really hate to see he and Rex at a buffet together.

  4. santolonius says: May 27, 2012 12:24 PM

    even though i have strong NJ sports betting opinions (pro – but who cares) this is a politics story, designed to create a narrative for the fall election. christie – who has about a one in three chance of being romney’s v.p. selection – is setting up a states’ right vs over-reaching federal government debate. whether sports betting in NJ is allowed is almost beside the point to christie. what is more important is that he can be loud about state’s rights in the fall, during the final weeks of the presidential campaign. i’m not taking a dem/g.o.p. side here. i’m just saying this is what is really going on.

  5. pftbillsfan says: May 27, 2012 12:36 PM

    So your bet is on the NFL and third circuit. Not a ridiculously popular governor, overwhelming public support, and in an election year when job creating is issue 1. Delaware has a leadership team similar to your average chess club. NJ, not so much. This will be affected by a multitude of outside influences and I believe have a different outcome.

  6. buddybowl69 says: May 27, 2012 12:41 PM

    The picture of Governor Chris Christie was taken while a reporter was eating a cheesesteak in the front row. The governor was later seen drooling all over himself while shifting through the trash can looking for the wrapper.

  7. drunkenagitator says: May 27, 2012 12:50 PM

    What most people around the USA don’t understand about NJ is that it’s the “all-talk-no-action” state. Sports betting in AC has been under discussion for the last 30 years and it’s no closer to reality than it was in 1982. Even if it was eventually legalized, the state would find some way to make it totally inconvenient and outrageously expensive, thus sucking all the fun out of it like they do with everything else. NJ’s first priority re: gambling ought to be making AC & the horse tracks places that regular people would actually want to visit instead of run-down, depressing, half-a**ed dumps. NJ has a lottery, legal gambling and a sales & income tax, yet the whole state is falling apart. Sports wagering would make a few bureaucrats very happy but the rest of NJ would see no benefit from it, as usual.

  8. ningenito78 says: May 27, 2012 12:57 PM

    There’s a huge difference between Delaware and NJ with Atlantic City being the wild card. If NJ was in line with every other state as to the federal laws and gambling then every other state would have their own AC. Don’t doubt Christie here. I have a feeling he wouldn’t be prepared for this fight if he didn’t believe he had more than enough bullets.

  9. hiltonandastoria says: May 27, 2012 12:58 PM

    We here in Canada can go to any corner store and place bets on NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA just like buying a lotto ticket….

    And its AWESOME

  10. CKL says: May 27, 2012 12:59 PM

    billinva says: May 27, 2012 12:23 PM

    If the NFL is so against gambling, why do they structure the injury reports, and inactive lists the way they do?

    Hypocrites.
    _______________________________
    I couldn’t agree more that the NFL is 100% hypocritical about this topic. Another example: allowing lottery tickets with team logos on them to be sold. Another one, allowing a “bankrupt” convict who loves him some controlled substances to the point he couldn’t refrain from them WHILE WAITING FOR HIS SENTENCING who was convicted of charges related to running an interstate gambling operation (sounds ripe for a game throwing deal, no???) back into the NFL…and not only letting him return, but coddling him (Vick).
    I don’t care one way or the other about gambling, but the NFL needs to take ONE stance and stick to it…period.

  11. hiltonandastoria says: May 27, 2012 1:01 PM

    Oh and we can do it online as well, Provincial regulated sports gambling on all the major sports, hell golf, soccer, tennis too if you’re into that.

    Again, AWESOME

  12. jwreck says: May 27, 2012 1:08 PM

    kungfubillysims says: May 27, 2012 12:24 PM
    I’d really hate to see he and Rex at a buffet together.
    __________________
    Really? You’d hate to see that? That would be the spectacle of the century bro. I would pay money to watch that on pay-per-view. To be fair, not a lot of money, but five/ten bucks, deal.

    Also, Santolonius, excellent point. I didn’t even think about it that way, but that makes a ton of sense, and makes me like the guy even more.

    Getting to the point though, actual question here for all you Garden Staters: is there really no online sportsbetting in Jersey? It seems like it would be hard to restrict the internet. This is something I would actually like to know, and people on PFT are notoriously bad at answering questions, so if your response starts with “For the record, I’m not from Jersey, and I’ve never bet on sports in my life, but I would think that…” you can go ahead and stop writing and let someone who actually knows things do the job for you.

  13. blspears says: May 27, 2012 1:39 PM

    I think if they gambled in their own state and didn’t take online anywhere bets they could tell the Fed’s to suck it. They can only regulate interstate commerce.

  14. rcali says: May 27, 2012 1:42 PM

    I BET there will be some suspensions coming for Detriot Lions players.

  15. dontouchmyjunk says: May 27, 2012 1:42 PM

    When it comes to betting, I’d rather play Hold ‘em poker. At least I have some control, even if I’m only a casual player.

  16. noodlecbs says: May 27, 2012 1:43 PM

    Nice pic there Christie- #Hogjaw

  17. pappyjoe69 says: May 27, 2012 1:54 PM

    The real reason for not legalizing gambling in NJ is because The Mob said so.

  18. east96st says: May 27, 2012 2:40 PM

    “christie – who has about a one in three chance of being romney’s v.p. selection – is setting up a states’ right vs over-reaching federal government debate.”

    Except that article indicates that the NFL, NOT the Feds, would bring legal action. The courts would rule on it, of course, but any lawyer can tell you that has as much to do with the legal team as the actual law. Given NJ’s bumbling of the “race to the top” funds and Christie’s completely screwing up and lying about the Hudson River tunnel project, the “double dipping” pension fiasco, etc., I’d be more than happy to wager some bucks on the NFL legal team. State lawyers vs the NFL? It’s almost unfair how one sided that is.

  19. scorp16 says: May 27, 2012 2:41 PM

    “We have understood the Eleventh Amendment to stand not so much for what it says, but for the presupposition of our constitutional structure which it confirms: that the States entered the federal system with their sovereignty intact; that the judicial authority in Article III is limited by this sovereignty, and that a State will therefore not be subject to suit in federal court unless it has consented to suit, either expressly or in the “plan of the convention.”

    United States Supreme Court – Blatchford v. Native Village of Noatak – 1991

    So let me get this straight. The NFL will try to challenge the sovereignty of State of New Jersey?

    New Jersey will argue the 11th Amendment, in which case the NFL has no standing. The federal government will have to bring suit. Delaware challenged PASPA. NJ will will uphold their sovereign right to allow sports betting through the 11th Amendment, and then they’ll bury PASPA as unconstitutional.

    This should be fun.

  20. khuxford says: May 27, 2012 2:48 PM

    If the newspaper guy’s words were a practical waste of time, then Florio’s words would be….

  21. thegreatgabbert says: May 27, 2012 2:50 PM

    NFL has it’s headquarters in New York, but “dey keep de books in Joisey”.

  22. frankyvito says: May 27, 2012 3:00 PM

    This is ridiculous. The main reason the NFL doesn’t want gambling is they can’t stand to see any entity other than itself making money on its name without getting its cut. Promise them a percentage and watch how fast their opinion changes. Bitterman, party of one. I love living in Vegas.

  23. thegreatgabbert says: May 27, 2012 3:43 PM

    Shoutout to New Jersey’s finest athlete, the incomparable Christie Rampone.

    USNWT vs. China tonight, Chester Pa. Be there.

  24. seanb20124 says: May 27, 2012 3:57 PM

    Ahhhhhh the nanny state is once again protecting me

  25. east96st says: May 27, 2012 4:04 PM

    “New Jersey will argue the 11th Amendment, in which case the NFL has no standing. The federal government will have to bring suit.”

    Why? What makes you so sure the feds would give a damn? Any winnings you earn from gambling are taxable. As long as there’s money to be made, why fight it. Unless, of course, the NFL uses the time tested strategy of buying Congress and the Senate. We all know how well placed “donations” get our representatives foaming at the mouth for “justice” for some, “poor beleaguered” industry.

  26. djvicdogg says: May 27, 2012 4:09 PM

    I don’t really see what the big deal is anyways. I thought everyone in Jersey had a “bookie”.

  27. latchbeam says: May 27, 2012 4:34 PM

    Christie is just bringing attention to it… the next step would before to introduce legislation in congress and the senate.

  28. bigbluefan1 says: May 27, 2012 5:05 PM

    Here is some reality for you
    The Gov says its legal the Casinos start taking book.
    Then what the feds come in and close it down Rodger going to drive to AC and stop it?

    And for all you morans yeah our Gov has a weight problem so what he has done more to get this state on track then any gov has in 50 years.
    I hope he does not get the VP nod we need him here.

    Have any of you left your basement and been in LV for the NCAA Basketball weekends. Those places are packed why should all that money go to one town and not the rest of the country.
    The same corps have casinos in AC and LV so they already know how to run a sports book.

    This is not Delaware this is NJ in Delaware if Dupont does not want it it does not happen in NJ if CC wants it it happens

  29. thetooloftools says: May 27, 2012 5:26 PM

    WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE ?
    “The issue is settled; the federal law prohibiting sports gambling beyond any programs that states had in place between 1976 and 1990 has been upheld by the same appeals court to which any case against New Jersey would eventually go”.

    That federal law needs to go now.
    Gambling is a STATES right and the FEDS need to stay out of it. How can it be legal in one state and the feds say NO MORE ? This is part of the problem. States could TAX winnings but no… I get a free ride because I play through a friend? When I was in high school in the late 70′s my friend brought us betting slips to play through him for his father…. his father was a cop. Their is corruption and stupidity and Washington D.C. has those art forms mastered.
    I’ll bet ya !

  30. maximusprime107 says: May 27, 2012 5:58 PM

    The deeper question remains why does the NFL care about gambling on pro football games? We continue to believe that, if sports gambling becomes legalized and thus legitimized, there will be more and more pressure on the NFL to ensure that every call made in every game is accurate, forcing the league to employ officials on a full-time basis, expand the use of instant replay, and fend off periodic charges that the outcomes are fixed as millions of legally wagered dollars change hands (or don’t) based on a garbage-time touchdown that maybe shouldn’t have been ruled a touchdown.

    ———————-

    Pretty much answered your own question here, the NFL doesn’t want to put in the extra work to make those things happen

  31. mrdelaware says: May 27, 2012 6:42 PM

    Mr. Florio,
    What the third circuit ruled on in 2009 was the interpitation of the law, not the constitutionality of it. There is a huge difference. Delaware thought that it was an eventuality that abother state (with deeper pockets) would challange the law soon enough.

  32. TheWizard says: May 27, 2012 6:53 PM

    christie – who has about a one in three chance of being romney’s v.p. selection – is setting up a states’ right vs over-reaching federal government debate

    Gambling is hardly an issue that will gain the support of Republicans.

    Many of us already feel state lotteries are an evil sham.

  33. dablueguy says: May 27, 2012 9:07 PM

    The “integrity of the league” issue is the biggest crock there is. The only way to ensure no funny business is to have all betting legal and above board, the way every other civilized Nation in the world does it, not the way it’s done now, with the majority of betting underground. That’s what causes integrity concerns. The biggest detriment to those that want to shave points is to keep betting the way it is now, in the hands of the mob.

  34. dablueguy says: May 27, 2012 9:09 PM

    Meant to say the biggest detriment would be to legalize it. The status quo opens things up to potential scandal.

  35. circlingthewagons says: May 27, 2012 10:12 PM

    scorp16 says:
    May 27, 2012 2:41 PM

    New Jersey will argue the 11th Amendment, in which case the NFL has no standing. The federal government will have to bring suit. Delaware challenged PASPA. NJ will will uphold their sovereign right to allow sports betting through the 11th Amendment, and then they’ll bury PASPA as unconstitutional.

    This should be fun.

    —————————————————–

    Actually, PASPA gives sports organizations whose operations are involved in betting schemes that allegedly violate the law standing to sue for injunctive relief. So, while I agree that NJ would have an 11th Amendment argument they could make (which would make Christie something approaching a god-like figure to many on the right), it would in no way be a slam dunk. I could not find a copy of the Delaware district court’s opinion in the 2009 NFL/MLB/NBA/NHL case, but the sports organizations definitely were the plaintiffs, not the federal govt. Because I couldn’t find it, I couldn’t determine whether Delaware made arguments facially challenging the constitutionality of PASPA. Obviously, if they did that and the 3rd Circuit ruled against them, NJ would be in a tough spot. Don’t get me wrong – I would LOVE to see PASPA go, not that it would give me any greater access to sports betting (TX isn’t going to have gambling anytime soon), but I think Florio’s correct that the case would have to reach SCOTUS in order for that to occur. If they wouldn’t take the 2009 Delaware case, I’m not sure on what basis they would take the NJ case.

  36. regulator01 says: May 28, 2012 7:02 AM

    Heres a better idea, how bout we just slide nj off into the ocean?oh wait that would probably cause massive fish kills hahaha

  37. scorp16 says: May 28, 2012 8:46 AM

    A significant difference between NJ and Delaware is that NJ has already put this on the ballot. The NJ voters passed this by a 2/3 majority. Christie is on record saying he is moving forward and plans to have sports betting in place by September.

    In Delaware’s case PASPA already afforded them sports betting. They were one of the four states along with Nevada, Oregon, and Montana. But because all they had ever done before was parlays and sports lotteries, the NFL sued them based on interpretation of the existing PASPA law when they wanted to offer single game betting. That entire case was based on interpretation and not unconstitutionality.

    NJ will make the constitutional argument backed by the 2/3 Majority vote by the citizens of New Jersey that approved this legislation. The NFL cannot sue for an interpretation of PASPA in this argument. NJ would rely on both the 10th and 11th Amendments of the Constitution. The NFL clearly lacks standing in a case of this nature. The federal government will need step in. And if they do, this will become a state’s right issue. I cant see any scenarios in which the SCOTUS does not hear it.

  38. walkingtalking1 says: May 29, 2012 8:02 AM

    Christie just wants more buffets like the ones in Vegas.

  39. gwroadrunner18 says: May 29, 2012 12:05 PM

    While its true that the third circuit court ruled in favor of paspa and the NFL when it came to Delaware .New jersey is arguing their lawsuit on constitutional grounds which is totally different than Delaware… Delaware argued on their exemption status and paspas intent concerning their pre paspa exemption, so therefore I believe that new jersey will win its challenge.

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