Following up on our post here, tonight the US District Court for the District of New Jersey issued an opinion in NCAA v. Christie, concluding that the NCAA and the four major sports leagues have standing to challenge New Jersey's efforts to implement sports betting. Importantly, the court has not ruled with respect to the merits; rather, as a result of this procedural decision, the court will move on to consider the substantive issues.
First, the court concluded that in the 2009 Delaware sports betting case, Office of the Commissioner v. Markell, the Third Circuit satisfied itself that the professional leagues do have standing under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act ("PASPA") to challenge sports betting. The court noted that because the Third Circuit concluded that it had jurisdiction, it necessarily must have been satisfied that the leagues appropriately had standing.
Second, the court turned to the question of whether the leagues have established an injury in fact, without which a party would lack standing. The court noted that the injury in fact must be only an "identifiable trifle." Based on that standard, the court concluded that the potential negative effect on perception of the integrity of the leagues' games and their relationship with their fans was sufficient to constitute an injury. The court concluded that this "perception based in reality" is sufficient to establish the "trifle" necessary for standing. The court found unpersuasive the argument that the leagues sanction fantasy sports, noting that fantasy sports are not considered gambling under UIGEA.
Third, the court considered whether the injury in fact could be traced to the state's conduct. Again, the court found that the perception of a negative influence on games was sufficient to establish this factor. The court noted that, because at least one statement in the record concluded that overall wagering on sports might increase as a result of legalization of sports wagering in New Jersey, any harm from that increased wagering would be traceable to the state. (The state has argued that the legalization of sports wagering in casinos will have the effect of moving money being wagered illegally into legal venues, not necessarily increasing the total amount wagered on sports).
Because the constitutionality of PASPA is at issue, the Attorney General of the United States will have an opportunity to file a brief before the court turns to the ultimate quesiton of PASPA's constitutionality.