Judge halts New Jersey's sports betting plan

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A federal judge on Friday granted a request from the four major U.S. professional sports leagues and the NCAA to at least temporarily stop New Jersey from allowing legalized sports betting.

U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp issued a temporary restraining order after a request by the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, Major League Baseball and the NCAA. He said the leagues have shown that they would be irreparably harmed if the state's casinos and racetracks were permitted to allow sports betting.

The leagues' lawsuit against the state to permanently prevent it from allowing sports betting will proceed.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie signed a law on Oct. 17 that effectively repeals the state's ban on sports wagering and allows it at racetracks and casinos.

Monmouth Park racetrack said that its plan to start accepting bets on Sunday has been put on hold following the decision.

"While we are disappointed not to be able to start this Sunday, we are confident that sports betting will be coming to New Jersey in the very near future," Dennis Drazin, a legal consultant for the racetrack, said in a statement.

No other racetracks or casinos have revealed plans yet to offer sports betting.

Nevada is the only state to allow bettors to wager on individual games. Delaware offers multi-game parlay pools where bettors must pick several games correctly to win money.

New Jersey already lost a constitutional challenge to a 1992 federal law that bans state-sponsored sports gambling. Instead, Christie relied on a federal appeals court's ruling last year that said the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act didn't prohibit New Jersey "from repealing its ban on sports wagering." The leagues claim the state is nevertheless violating the law because racetracks and casinos are heavily regulated by the state.

New Jersey lawmakers see sports betting as a lifeline for the state's flagging casino and horse racing industries. In Nevada, nearly $3.5 billion was wagered on sports in 2012, according to the American Gaming Association, a Washington-based trade group. More than 95 percent of that was returned to patrons in winnings, the group estimated.

Estimates of illegal sports betting nationwide run into the hundreds of billions of dollars annually.