Friday, October 24, 2014

NJ Sports Betting: Leagues Throw Out the Challenge Flag

Was curious this afternoon to see what might happen up in New Jersey regarding its efforts to legalize sports betting.

You might have heard the legislature in the Garden State rushed a bill through both houses last week and a day later Governor Chris Christie signed it, and all was in place at Monmouth Park to start taking bets on the NFL games this Sunday.

Earlier this week came the complaints from the NCAA and the four major professional leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL) who took the position that the New Jersey law which would allow casinos and horse tracks to take sports bet was “in clear and flagrant violation of federal law” (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992).

The leagues sought an injunction to keep New Jersey from going forward with sports betting, New Jersey filed a response to the complaint, then all waited to see what U.S. District Court Judge Michael A. Shipp might do. Without any sort of ruling, bets could be taken, but Shipp could step in to issue a temporary restraining order so more time could be taken to decide on the case.

And that’s what Shipp did just before the end of the business day today, although it sounds like the order only prevents bets involving the NCAA or the four major leagues, meaning they actually could take sports bets at Monmouth on golf, tennis, NASCAR, and other sports, or so points out an advisor to Monmouth. (Not sure that’s actually the case, though.)

Here’s an article in The Press of Atlantic City detailing Shipp’s late afternoon decision. For a good and quick overview of what’s happening regarding these efforts to get sports betting in New Jersey and Shipp’s decision, check out this radio interview with John Brennan of the Bergan Record. (Thanks to Grange95 for tweeting that one out, and check his blog for more good commentary on this topic.) [EDIT (added 10/25/14]: And for another interesting read, here’s Brennan delivering a blow-by-blow account the scene in Shipp’s courtroom when he gave the decision.]

In the interview, Brennan spells out how it was a little extraordinary for such a restraining order to be granted, but Shipp had a history of ruling in that direction on this issue and so his decision wasn’t a surprise. So they’re on hold a little longer in New Jersey on the sports betting front. Meanwhile they’re still playing online poker and gambling in other ways there, and of course fantasy sports continues to be enjoyed all over the nation.

Allowing sports betting in the ailing Atlantic City casinos (those that remain, anyhow) and at the horse tracks doesn’t seem terribly out of place from afar, and the leagues’ complaints against it seem disingenuous when sports betting already happens legally in Nevada (and illegally everywhere) and the leagues have continued to survive. Will remain curious to see if it ever comes about.

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