There are many instances where State Legislatures will attempt to create laws or rewrite them in the name of state interests. On some occasions these new laws run head on into federal laws that preempt any further actions.
This law would allow betting on professional and college sports at Atlantic City casinos and at racetracks. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled 2 to 1 against New Jersey. The 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act prevented this law from being enacted. PASPA is a federal statute that restricts gambling on sports.
“We are not asked to judge the wisdom of the PASPA or of New Jersey’s law, or of the desirability of the activities they seek to regulate,” the court said. “We speak only to the legality of these measures as a matter of constitutional law.”
William J. Pascrell III, a lobbyist for legalizing sports gambling, believes sports gambling could generate $1 billion in bets and $100 million in revenue for the state in the first year.
“We will continue to fight this injustice by either appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court or to the entire Court of Appeals,” State Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, a sports-betting advocate, said in an e-mailed statement after the ruling.
It is quite common for federal appeals courts to make their decisions based on a panel of three judges. Once the ruling is decided upon, the losing party (in this case New Jersey) has the right to request a review by a full court.
Governor Chris Christie said the state will challenge the decision of the court. The governor was attending a senior citizens picnic in Paramus.
Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for Governor Christie, did not immediately reply to phone calls or e-mails asking for comments on the decision.
Top sports organizations jumped on the bandwagon with the federal government in denying New Jersey's request. The National Collegiate Athletic Association, National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball argued that this law would undermine professionalism and integrity in sports and violates the federal statute.
With the exception of Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon, the law bans betting on sports in all other states.
Earlier this year the sports leagues challenged Delaware's betting rights. In 2009, the appellate court ruled that Delaware could offer only "parlay" bets on at least three NFL games but not on single games.
U.S, District Judge Michael Shipp took the federal government's side in February. He barred the state from sponsoring or operating betting, gambling or wagering systems based on amateur or professional competitive games.
Judge Vanaski went on to write: “By prohibiting states from licensing or authorizing sports gambling, PASPA dictates the manner in which states must regulate interstate commerce and thus contravenes the principles of federalism,” and “conscripts the states as foot soldiers to implement a congressional policy choice."
Senator Lesniak, Democrat, believes that Judge Vanaski's opinion has, for the first time, placed a judge in a position of backing the state. "That gives us hope." -- Lesniak