The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a ruling denying New Jersey’s efforts to legalize sports betting in the State. The ongoing league battle has pitted several professional sports associations against the State of New Jersey in a high stakes effort to undercut the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”).
What are the important takeaways from the Third Circuit’s sports betting ruling?
PASPA makes it unlawful for, among other things, “a governmental entity to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize by law or compact . . .” sports betting. The Third Circuit ultimately found that New Jersey’s 2014 law, attempting to repeal prior prohibitions on sports gambling, amounts to an “authorization by law” of sports betting, and thus a violation of PASPA. The decision was not unanimous, however, with two justices dissenting. One justice found simply that New Jersey’s law did not violate PASPA. The other justice found, more broadly, that PASPA unconstitutionally commandeers a state’s authority to legislate within its borders by requiring that it keep laws on its books, in this case a prohibition on sports betting.
Next Steps for New Jersey Sports Betting?
New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak, who has been instrumental in New Jersey’s efforts to legalize sports betting, has said that he will request that the U.S. Supreme Court hear this case. While the Supreme Court declined to hear New Jersey’s previous appeal, Sen. Lesniak is hopeful that this instance will be different given the two dissenting opinions contained in the Third Circuit’s decision. As we have previously done, we will continue to post updates concerning New Jersey’s continued attempts to decriminalize sports gambling.