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Friday, October 17, 2014

New Jersey Legalizes (or is it no longer bans) Sports Wagering

Today, Governor Chris Christie signed legislation which removes the prohibition of sports wagering at racetracks and casinos in an effort to thread a needle to legalize sports gambling.  With the signing of S2640, Christie dropped a request by the district court to make gaming legal by Attorney General fiat.  Monmouth Park expects to begin accepting wagers on October 26.

Of course, that assumes no sports league or the Federal government chooses not to obtain an injunction.

And horses fly (in the air).

As this non-lawyer has said before, and says again, the odds of this legislation surviving legal challenge is low.  The third circuit claimed the state could repeal its laws regarding sports wagering which would allow (though inadvisable) sports wagering to occur provided the state doesn't sanction it.  Hence this legislation.

Let's examine a few pieces of this legislation:

...are repealed to the extent they apply or may be construed to apply at a casino or gambling house operating in this State in Atlantic City or a running or harness horse racetrack in this State, to the placement and acceptance of wagers on professional, collegiate, or amateur sport contests or athletic events by persons 21 years of age or older situated at such location...

Does repealing prohibitions at racetracks and casinos mean there is state sanctioned gaming?  What about setting the rules that a person must be 21 years of age or older.  Sounds like the state is making rules, albeit very minimal.

...“collegiate sport contest or athletic event” shall not include a collegiate sport contest or collegiate athletic event that takes place in New Jersey or a sport contest or athletic event in which any New Jersey college team participates regardless of where the event takes place;...

Sounds like not allowing contests in New Jersey or involving New Jersey college teams from being gambled on is setting rules and defacto sanctioning.

Of course, we will see how it plays out.  After all, didn't Pegasus fly?

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