New Jersey Governor Christie signs sports betting bill

20 October 2014

New Jersey governor Chris Christie has signed a new bill to partially repeal the US state’s prohibition on sports betting.

The bill was last week was approved by the Assembly by a vote of 27-1 but required Christie’s signature in order to move to the next stage.

Under the bill, casinos and racetracks in New Jersey will be able to offer sports betting services to punters in the state under the provision that bets are placed on events outside of the state so as not to conflict with a 1992 federal law.

Monmouth Park Racetrack could become the first facility to offer such wagering services on October 26.

Christie, who earlier this year vetoed a bill that would have repealed the state’s prohibition on sports betting, announced last month that he was ordering the State Attorney General office to not prosecute casinos or racetracks offering sports wagering.

Democratic state Senator Raymond Lesniak, who authored the bill, said it will help boost business in the state’s struggling gambling market.

“It will be a lifeline to Atlantic City casinos and for the horse racing industry, creating jobs and economic opportunities that will serve the city and the state for years to come,” Lesniak said in a statement.

Christie’s approval of the bill comes despite opposition from the country’s four major professional sports leagues and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which last month filed a court challenge against the bill.

The challenge, which was also supported by the US Department of Justice, branded the attempt as ‘astounding,’, ‘specious’ and a ‘blatant violation’ of a previous court order.

US District Judge Shipp had been due to give an opinion on the case last week, opted to delay the hearing until October 31 and now November 21 in order to give both sides additional time to file more briefs.

The new bill could finally end a legal battle that began in 2011 when New Jersey voters approved legalised sports gambling in a non-binding referendum,

Legislation followed by passing a sports wagering bill that Governor Christie signed into law in 2012.

However, the four major professional sports league and the NCAA sued several months later to stop the effort, with Shipp ruling in early 2013 that the federal law restricting sports betting in Nevada and three other states was constitutional.

Following this ruling, Shipp issued a permanent injunction that stopped New Jersey from implementing the law, with the US Supreme Court declining to take up the state’s appeal.

Christie’s order to the State Attorney General last month signalled the start of the latest effort to legalise sports betting.

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US Department of Justice opposes New Jersey sports betting plans

Pro leagues challenge New Jersey over sports betting

New Jersey set to allow sports betting