The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia yesterday rejected New Jersey's "long-shot bid to legalize Las Vegas-style sports betting," according to a front-page piece by Donald Wittkowski of the ATLANTIC CITY PRESS. The court in a 2-1 vote "ruled that New Jersey's proposed law is illegal because it conflicts with a federal ban on sports betting in all but four states." But New Jersey State Sen. Raymond Lesniak "seized on the fact that one of the appeals judges seemed to favor sports betting." Lesniak said, "We will continue to fight this injustice by either appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court or to the entire court of appeals. For the first time, a judge has ruled in our favor. That gives us hope." Wittkowski notes the courts have "repeatedly cited the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or PASPA, to block New Jersey." The federal law "bans all states except for Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon from having sports betting" (ATLANTIC CITY PRESS, 9/18). In Newark, Ryan Hutchins notes the NCAA "cheered Tuesday's decision." The organization in a statement said, "The spread of legalized sports wagering is a threat to student-athlete well-being and the integrity of athletic competition." Hutchins writes the court's decision delivered "another bruising loss for state leaders who think the multi-billion-dollar industry could revive the state’s struggling casinos and horse racing tracks." Despite the state's plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the ruling "will likely nix the chance to have sports betting in New Jersey in time" for Super Bowl XLVIII (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 9/18).
RAISING THE STAKES: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie after the ruling vowed to take the state's case "all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court." While the state has the option of appealing the decision to a full Court of Appeals, Christie "insisted he planned to take the case directly to the U.S. Supreme Court." He said, "Yes, if the Supreme Court will take it. We’re definitely going to ask them to" (NJ.com, 9/17). In Philadelphia, Brubaker & Boyer note, "There's no guarantee that the U.S. Supreme Court will accept an appeal." But New Jersey-based attorney Christopher Soriano, who focuses on gaming law, said that the case "might make the cut." Soriano: "In a case of this magnitude, when you have a judge who disagrees with the panel's decision, it certainly may make the Supreme Court more interested in the case." Another "possible path to the legalization of sports gambling in New Jersey runs through Congress" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 9/18).