Following up on our September 29 post about the sports leagues' opposition to New Jersey's latest effort to implement sports betting, late in the evening of the 29th the Department of Justice also weighed in, opposing New Jersey's efforts.
The DOJ focuses on an issue of New Jersey constitutional law. The DOJ argues that gambling is prohibited by the New Jersey Constitution except pursuant to limited amendments to the Constitution. The DOJ argues that the constitutional amendment authorizing sports betting only allows the Legislature to "authorize by law" sports betting. The DOJ then states that the Sports Wagering Law was enacted under that constitutional language. As a result, the Sports Wagering Law must necessarily "authorize by law" sports betting, which violates PASPA.
The DOJ also argues that it is impossible to sever the provisions authorizing sports betting in the Sports Wagering Law from the rest of the legislation.
The DOJ also argues that because a state licensed casino or racetrack is the only entity authorized to offer sports betting, a license from the state is necessarily required in order to offer sports betting, which also violates PASPA.
A new bill (A3711) has been introduced in the New Jersey Legislature, apparently seeking to address some of these issues. That bill would not only repeal any criminal prohibition on sports betting in New Jersey, but would also provide that any "statues, rules, regulations or other state laws that may require any state or state agency to license, authorize, or otherwise take action" to allow suprts betting are also repealed to the extent that those restrictions apply to a casino or a racetrack. The bill has been referred to committee.
Up next is New Jersey's reply, on October 10.