New Jersey Makes Another Push for Legalized Sports Betting

New Jersey lawmakers have revived efforts to legalize sports betting in the state, the New Jersey Law Journal reported. A new bill that aims to repeal the prohibition on wagers on different types of sports contests and events was introduced in the State Assembly last week. Sponsored by Assemblymen Ralph Caputo and John Burzichelli, AB 4303 comes as the state’s latest attempt to prop up its struggling casino and horse racing industries.

New Jersey has been trying to legalize sports betting for more than five years now. In 2011, voters approved a referendum for the legalization of that type of gambling offering. In January 2012, the Legislature passed a bill that allowed for licenses to be issued to Atlantic City casinos and racetracks around the state to accept wagers on certain professional and collegiate contests. Gov. Chris Christie put his signature on the law later that month.

However, the effort could not move any forward as the NFL, NBA, NCAA, NHL, and Major League Baseball brought the matter to court, arguing that it violated a federal law that banned sports betting nationwide, with the exception of four states. They also pointed out that New Jersey’s wagering law would impact their games’ integrity.

In a more recent effort, Gov. Christie signed a bill sponsored by State Senator Raymond Lesniak that partially repealed the 2012 law. In August, the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit foiled Sen. Lesniak’s push, arguing that it violated PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 – the federal law that prohibits sports betting in the US). However, the US Court intimated that New Jersey could not be prevented from repealing existing state laws on wagering.

Assemblymen Caputo and Burzichelli’s bill actually tries to repeal New Jersey’s 2012 law without breaching the federal ban. In other words, if the bill is passed it would allow for the provision of sports betting options everywhere in the state. Everyone interested would be able to run a sportsbook even from their home. What is more, under the 2012 state law, only people aged 21 or above could place wagers on sports events. However, if the law is repealed, that would mean that everyone would be able to bet.

Talking to media, Assemblyman Caputo said that the recently introduced bill was just the beginning of a complex process and that certain restrictions would indeed need to be put regarding who would be able to run sports betting operations and who would be able to place wagers. According to the official, their proposal is not likely to move forward quite quickly.

New Jersey is not the only US state to be pushing for the legalization and regulation of sports betting. Pennsylvania and New York have also been gearing up to challenge PASPA and to urge the US Congress to lift the nationwide ban on wagering.

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