A New Jersey State law that would legalize sports gambling in Atlantic City casinos suffered its final blow yesterday when the United States Supreme Court declined to hear New Jersey’s appeal from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which had affirmed a lower court ruling that found the law to be illegal.

Previous Decision

In 2013, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey struck down New Jersey’s sports gambling law on the grounds that it was inconsistent with federal law.  Specifically, the proposed 2012 New Jersey State sports gambling law was held to be in direct conflict with the 1992 federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).  As we first informed our readers in the blog New Jersey Governor Christie Loses Appeal to Legalize Sports Gambling, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the lower district court and stated that:

We are cognizant that certain questions related to this case — whether gambling on sporting events is harmful to the games’ integrity and whether states should be permitted to license and profit from the activity — . . . .  But we are not asked to judge the wisdom of PASPA or of New Jersey’s law, or of the desirability of the activities they seek to regulate. We speak only to the legality of these measures as a matter of constitutional law. . . . New Jersey’s sports wagering law conflicts with PASPA and, under our Constitution, must yield.

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear New Jersey Sports Gambling Appeal

Despite a strong dissent from one of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals judges, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear New Jersey’s appeal.  A number of amici briefs were submitted encouraging the Supreme Court to let the lower court decision stand, including those from the United States government, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball, respectfully.  Ultimately, at least five (5) justices of the Supreme Court decided that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals decision did not need review.

Impact of Decision

The Supreme Court’s decision not to hear New Jersey’s appeal is further indication that unless a state has been “grandfathered” in under the PASPA, the state will not be allowed to legalize sports gambling within its borders.