Judge to decide on sports betting in New Jersey

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A federal judge said he would decide Friday whether to grant a request from the four major U.S. professional sports leagues and the NCAA to stop New Jersey from becoming the second state in the country to offer legalized sports betting on individual games.

Judge Michael Shipp said he would announce his decision at 4:30 p.m. in a Trenton courtroom. The leagues had asked for a temporary injunction to stop betting from being allowed this weekend.

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 had said it planned to accept bets starting Sunday. No other racetracks or casinos have revealed plans yet to offer sports betting. The leagues told the judge they will be irreparably harmed if sports gambling is allowed in New Jersey.

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.