New Jersey Sports Betting Battle Entering its Final Phase (Maybe)
The battle over regulated New Jersey sports betting is back in court this week and the outcome could hinge on how a the 3rd U.S. Circuit of Appeals judge the 3rd U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Philadelphia interprets the word, “authorize.”
At the core of the case is whether or not the State is both authorizing and regulating sports betting in the Garden State.
Attorneys for the four major US sports leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and NCAA) say that the state is not just repealing laws against sports betting, but that it is also regulating it for a few, favored entities. (In this case, struggling Atlantic City casinos and racetracks). They maintain that is just a partial repeal of the law.
Lawyers for the State maintain that the State is merely repealing the law and that regulation would be done by a separate, and independent, entity. The sportsbooks could then operate in casinos, which are licensed and regulated by the State, without issue.
According to a report from the Associated Press, Judge Julio Fuentes seemed quite interested in the distinction between sports book and casino licenses. At one point he asked attorneys for the leagues, “Isn’t a casino license not transferable? I can’t imagine it would cover somebody else’s sports betting operation.”
It would be a major victory for sports betting supporters if Judge Fuentes decides that New Jersey is merely repealing its sports betting laws, but not actually regulating the activity itself. That could, potentially, open the door to regulating sports wagering across the United States and cause major headaches for the leagues.
The fact is, major leagues sports commissioners understand that regulated sports betting in the United States is inevitable.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently told ESPN Magazine that his biggest concern regarding legal sports betting was that it be regulated at Federal, rather than state, level.
Like the major operators watching the growth of American online poker, the leagues do not want to navigate a patchwork of state regulations when attempting to oversee betting activity.
Arguments in the New Jersey case will continue throughout the week.