Crazy? Or crazy like a fox?

New Jersey casinos will be offering regulated sports betting this fall, no matter what the Federal Government thinks. That’s what a defiant Governor Chris Christie told reporters at a recent press conference.

If true, the Garden State is in for a major legal battle that could change the status of sports betting for good.

Christie Throws Down the Gauntlet

“We intend to go forward and allow sports betting to happen,” Governor Christie said. “If someone wants to stop us, then let them try to stop us.”

That someone he’s referring to is actually a couple of different, very formidable, somebodies; the Federal Government and the NFL. Both organizations have the resources and interest to put up a pretty fierce fight to protect the Federal sports betting ban.

Christie’s bigger challenge may be finding a casino that’s brave enough to actually start offering bets ahead of an official Federal legislation. In an interview with, Tropicana President, Tony Rodio touched on the subject.

“I love the idea of playing offense and having the federal government have to play defense against us,” he said. “But I don’t know who’s going to want to be the first to open knowing they can shut you down. We’d need a lot more clarity before we invested lots of money in a sports book.”

Some, but not all, of that clarity could come from the new set of sports book regulations Christie plans to introduce this week. Still, the Garden State is spoiling for a major legal battle that could take years.

What else is New Jersey up to? How about mobile gaming in Atlantic City casinos?

How it Could Play Out

Can New Jersey unilaterally introduce legal sports betting without Federal approval? The answer is qualified, “maybe.” Already a number of states offer medical marijuana programs that are in conflict with Federal law in the same way that New Jersey’s sports betting would be. Though the Obama administration promised not to prosecute state-sanctioned pot dealers, they have reneged on that deal in recent months.

That said, there’s zero precedent for a state that’s gone completely renegade on the sports betting issue. Whether the administration has the stomach to fight a popular initiative like this during the height of re-election campaign remains to be seen.

This story is far from over and a fierce court battle is inevitable, so keep watching CAP for continuing updates.

How do you think the Feds will react if New Jersey goes ahead with intrastate sports betting? Share your opinion on our Online Gambling Laws & Regulations Forum.

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