Chris Christie

Despite vetoing an online poker bill just last year, New Jersey governor Chris Christie appears ready to fight tooth and nail to challenge laws and entities seeking to prevent his state from legalizing online sports-betting.

New Jersey appears set for a head-on clash with five major American sports leagues, the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB and NCAA, who are united in a federal lawsuit filed against the state in an effort to overturn their progress towards legalizing online sports-betting. The sports leagues fear that legalized sports-betting will create incentives for players and officials to “fix” contests.

The leagues are alleging that New Jersey is in violation of a 1992 law titled the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) which restricted betting on college and professional sporting events to just four states, Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon.

There is some precedent to look towards in anticipation of how a lengthy legal battle in federal court between New Jersey and the sports leagues might play out. In 2009, the same five leagues sued the state of Delaware in a federal court to prevent them from offering single-game sports-betting. Lawyers for the leagues successfully argued that Delaware’s legalized sports-betting law, which enabled them to be grandfathered in as an exemption to PASPA, applied only to parlay wagers in which three correct winners must be chosen.

New Jersey’s fiery Republican governor has indicated this battle will endure. In a recent statement, Christie said, “I don’t believe that the federal government has the right to decide that only certain states can have sports gambling.”

It will take a while to sort out. But we will eventually see if a federal judge agrees.


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