On October 17, 2014, New Jersey Senate Bill No. 2460, which partially repeals New Jersey’s ban on sports gambling, was signed into law by Governor Chris Christie. In his signing statement, Governor Christie explains that “[t]his bill closely adheres to controlling federal law, fully responds to the issues raised by federal courts, and remedies the concerns requiring my veto of Senate Bill No. 2250 earlier this year.” The new law is directly responsive to a federal court’s ban on New Jersey’s previous sports gambling law, which expressly authorized wagering on sporting events in the State of New Jersey. In addition, it closely tracks the law enforcement directive released by the New Jersey Attorney General in September, which we first reportedhere.
New Jersey Sports Gambling Ban Repealed
The new legislation “partially repeal[s] the prohibitions, permits, licenses, and authorizations concerning wagers on professional, collegiate, or amateur sports contests or athletic events, deleting a portion of P.L.1977, C.110, and repealing sections 1 through 6 of P.L.2011, C.231.” Despite the repeal, the new law expressly states that it is “not intended and shall not be construed as causing the State to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize by law or compact the placement or acceptance of any wager on any professional, collegiate, or amateur sport contest or athletic event . . . .” For all intents and purposes, the law is directly responsive to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit’s statement that the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”) does not prohibit New Jersey from “repealing its ban on sports wagering.’”
Limitations of Sports Gambling Ban Repeal
The new law decriminalizes sports gambling under New Jersey law, with some exceptions. In his signing statement, Governor Chris Christie highlighted certain limitations of the new law. Specifically, the Governor noted that:
This bill specifies that certain college sport contests or athletic events shall not be the subject of wagering, as the New Jersey Constitution mandates. Likewise, it specifies that the repeal only extends to wagers by persons who are 21 years of age or older. Finally, this bill also repeals the January 2012 law [which made sports gambling in the State of New Jersey legal] in its entirety, thereby adding certainty and clarity to the law.
In addition, a provision contained in the law highlights the fact that wagering on New Jersey college teams (regardless of where the games are played) and collegiate games that take place within the State of New Jersey shall not be permitted.
As a result of the new legislation, a number of New Jersey establishments, including racetracks, have indicated that they will begin offering patrons the ability to wager on professional sporting events beginning as early as October 26, 2014.
Stay Updated on New Jersey’s Sports Gambling Issues
On Monday, October 20, 2014, the National College Athletic Association, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, the National Hockey League and the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball collectively filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, seeking to enjoin enactment of the new law. On October 21, 2014, the plaintiffs in that action filed a motion seeking to temporarily enjoin the law from going into effect. The State of New Jersey’s opposition to the motion must be filed by October 22, 2014.
For those of you at home keeping score, please be advised that we have a disagreement among lawyers within our firm as to how this will all play out.