NFL, other sports leagues sue New Jersey over gambling


Governor Chris Christie can now accuse the other 30 NFL teams of hating New Jersey.

Along with every other pro sports league.  And Rutgers.

The NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, and NCAA have filed suit against New Jersey in response to a plan to launch betting on pro and college games.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Trenton, New Jersey, relies on the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.

It’s a fairly simple proposition.  The federal government decided 20 years ago to slam the door on betting on pro and college sports.  Congress left a narrow window open, allowing states like New Jersey with no pre-existing sports gambling program to launch sports betting in the period between January 1, 1993 and January 1, 1994.

Any state that didn’t now can’t.  New Jersey didn’t.

It’s even more important for the NFL to fight New Jersey on this point, since a pair of NFL teams play its home games there.

Christie surely will bluster about fighting the lawsuit, pushing the concept of states rights.  But as we’ve previously explained, the NFL already has won this fight against Delaware, securing a victory not only at the trial-court level but also in the federal appeals court that has jurisdiction over Delaware.  That same federal court — the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit — also encompasses New Jersey.

This means that the issue already has been settled.  As a result, any gambling on pro sports in New Jersey will have to continue on an illegal basis.

The NFL possibly will be surprised to learn that, yes, illegal gambling happens.  In New Jersey.  And pretty much everywhere else.

34 responses to “NFL, other sports leagues sue New Jersey over gambling

  1. I don’t get the geographic specific concerns over this. Vegas isn’t that far from a few of the West Coast teams. If people or players want to try to corrupt the sport through point shaving, game fixing, etc. they’re going to try it regardless of whether gambling is legal in Jersey or Delaware.

  2. New Jersey and any other state wishing to establish sports gambling should petition congress to change the law rather than ignore it. They will lose. A ruling for NJ establishes a precedent that ignoring laws you dont like is ok and would encourage more of the same.

  3. People are going to gamble anyway. Anytime the government tries to prevent it’s citizens from doing what they want, it fails (see: prohibition).

  4. If a law is unconstitutional, you assert that by disobeying it, rather than “petition congress to change” it.

  5. The NFL better hope that Obama wins in Nov or Christie has a great shot as being the VP . Even if he don’t run as the VP Mitt owes him big time so this law will pass oneway or another

  6. Kinda stupid and a waste of money for N.J. to push this as it’s an absolute no brainier. Having said that, American laws, generally speaking, prohibiting gambling are absurd. It’s just the Government trying to regulate morality which is absurd.

  7. The NFL didn’t totally stop from Delaware legalizing gambling on NFL games, they only stopped them from legalizing betting on individual games, Delaware has parlay betting on NFL games, with have to pick a minimum of 3 games. It was recently expanded beyond Delaware’s 3 casinos to 31 other locations.

  8. I wonder why the NFL and the other sports don’t sue all the offshore books like the US did with the poker rooms where Trillons of US player bet each year or maybe the NFL has a hand in the offshore books . You never hear the NFL even talk about them

  9. Delaware had used parlay betting before the 1992 law was passed, so it was grandfathered in. Delaware quickly quit parlay betting in the 1970s because they were doing a bad job of setting lines and lost a ton of money.

  10. Correction…DE did not re-start the parlay program during that window. Florio got it right in his previous comment. That was back in the 70’s.

  11. I’m still waiting for someone to explain how the federal government can allow something in 1 state but forbid it in 49 others. Either it’s a states’ rights issue or it isn’t. How can it be a states’ rights issue for Nevada but a Federal Government issue for everyone else?

  12. khuxford says:Aug 7, 2012 10:49 AM

    If a law is unconstitutional, you assert that by disobeying it, rather than “petition congress to change” it.

    I wasn’t aware that the right to gamble was guaranteed by the Constitution. What foresight our Founding Fathers had. Now I consider myself well informed on this matter.

  13. Congress doesn’t have a general “police” power which lets it ban gambling as being bad for people. It has a more limited power to regulate interstate commerce. The courts used to give Congress almost unlimited discretion to claim something affected interstate commerce but in recent years have been circumscribing that power. For instance the recent Obamacare case said it exceeded the interstate commerce power (which Congress had claimed) but was constitutional under the taxing power. NJ may very well have a good case on federalism grounds with the interstate commerce power subject to the 9th and 10th amendments which may make a comeback.

  14. briguy5 says:
    Aug 7, 2012 11:11 AM
    I’m still waiting for someone to explain how the federal government can allow something in 1 state but forbid it in 49 others. Either it’s a states’ rights issue or it isn’t. How can it be a states’ rights issue for Nevada but a Federal Government issue for everyone else?
    This is exactly the argument that should be put forth. New Jersey could try to get Congress to revisit the law or challenge it via the courts system. Ignoring the law and just doing what you want is not the way to do things.

  15. Why is it even illegal, I can’t speak for every other country but down here in New Zealand and over in Australia betting on pro sports is legal, they even give you the odds on the broadcast. There hasn’t been any major issues with it at all apart from some international cricket teams but then the players involved get banned and problem solved.

  16. I still remember that window to pass sports betting as I was living in NJ at the time. It was going to be voted by the people until Christine Todd Whitman, the governer at the time just decided to kill it and say no vote would be taken.

    I was mad then and still am now.

  17. Seems like it would be a lot better off legalized in all 50 states. I mean, it’s gonna happen whether legal or not every weekend in football season. It’s one of the few things that still feel old fashioned to me and a lot of fun if done with self discipline, like sipping on a good whiskey on your front porch late in the evenings. It’s a treat a delicacy, and the original fantasy role playing game you get to watch unfold every weekend. It’s an enhancer to an already wonderful sport. Why would the powers that be not legalize it?

  18. Chris Christie is awful and represents what is wrong with this country. He boasts about balancing his states budget and doesn’t mention that he did so by cutting teacher wages. He uses taxpayer’s time and money to hop on a helicopter and attend his son’s sport games. He is incredibly fat and I guarantee he smells terrible because he’s too fat to wipe himself properly.

  19. NJ should still sue over the issue bc it could be a real boost for their economy. As a law student I can’t tell you how many conflicting rulings there has been in legal history. The makeup of the court will be different and while they are suppose to follow precedent judges have tremendous egos and will often let their personal views shape the decision of the court. Don’t automatically assume that the courts will follow precedent.

  20. Those injury reports teams are required on file prior to every game are just for fun! Keeping the “fans” informed.

  21. So the NFL is fighting one of the things that is directly responsible for it’s popularity?

    What’s next a lawsuit against fantasy football??

  22. You can still gamble on the NFL at Dover Downs DE… It’s just not as open as it is in Las Vegas, you have to bet a Teaser or Parlay with at least 3 teams in the mix. You can’t bet on over/unders or anything pertaining to the total score of a game.

  23. Up north in Canada we can bet NFL, NCAA but not NBA in Ontario due to the Toronto Raptors, but its the same as Delaware, they make you parlay 3 games minimum but that includes totals and sides, Terrible payouts, (usually 1/3 what you would get from an offshore book) but hey its legal! my guess is the rest of the USA will follow suit eventually.

    NFL wouldnt be where it is today if it wasnt for gambling.

  24. If you’ve been to Atlantic City lately, you’ll understand why the Gov is trying to push this.

  25. If the gov’t can find a way to tax it then it will become legal. That’s the real difference in this country. If Uncle Sam can’t make money on it then it will be illegal. : See Prohibition and cigarettes.

  26. Might as well legalize it and collect some tax revenue. Not getting any revenue now from people going to bookies.

  27. Keep government out of sports betting. Keep it with organized crime where it belongs. Yeah, that makes sense.

  28. Tough times call for change. New ways to create new revenue for struggling state treasuries in the red.

    If they can do it in Vegas they should be able to do it in Jersey or anywhere else.

  29. You would be foolish to underestimate Chris Christie, the power he has. And he has the balls to go ahead and create a structure for gambling in NJ that has been looking to reverse this silly ruling for 5 years now, even though it is illegal he is going to get it done anyway because nobody will challenge him.

    Unless of course Romney selects him to be our next Vice President.

  30. FinFan68 says: Aug 7, 2012 11:24 AM

    New Jersey could try to get Congress to revisit the law or challenge it via the courts system. Ignoring the law and just doing what you want is not the way to do things.

    In this case, ignoring the law and doing what you want is a specific strategy. By doing so, New Jersey forced the leagues to sue them and will get its day in court. If they initiated a challenge to the law themselves, the process would have been drawn out over years by parties that wished to make it go away. In this case, New Jersey WANTED to get sued.

  31. Legalize gambling. It’s people taking risks, which is a part of life. Maybe if it was they would stop trying to stop it a find ways to profit from it. Just look at Vegas, we need more places like that in this country.

  32. Delaware attempted to argue that, as having sports gambling in place through PASPA, they should be able to expand it after the grace period. They lost.

    New Jersey is arguing that PASPA is unconstitutional, as it infringes on states’ rights and gives other states an unfair advantage (Nevada, primarily).

    Two completely different approaches and, as such, render Florio’s remark that this has been settled already to be 100% invalid.

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