Five associations sue state officials – claim proposed gambling bill would “threaten integrity” of sports
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has joined forces with four major professional sports to file a lawsuit in an attempt to block New Jersey politicians from allowing sports betting at the state’s 12 casinos and race tracks.
The National Basketball Association, the Major League Baseball, the National Football League and the National Hockey League and the NCAA filed the suit on Tuesday. The associations argue that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s (pictured) sports betting proposals violate the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (Paspa), which permits sports betting in only four states including Nevada, Montana, Oregon and Delaware.
The lawsuit states: “This is an action challenging New Jersey’s plan to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, and authorise gambling on amateur and professional sports, in clear and flagrant violation of federal law.”
“Gambling on amateur and professional sports threatens the integrity of those sports and is fundamentally at odds with the principle . . . that the outcomes of collegiate and professional athletic contests must be determined . . . solely on the basis of honest athletic competition.”
Senator Raymond Lesniak has been working to overturn New Jersey’s exclusion from sports betting regulation since early 2009 and said he welcomes the lawsuit. Lesniak said the sooner the lawsuit is overturned “the quicker we’ll be able to start sports betting in New Jersey.”
Christie wishes to legalise sports betting to help reinvigorate the city’s ailing land-based gambling industry. He signed a sports betting bill in January, but it was believed that before implementing it, the state would try to overturn Paspa. Christie, however said the regulations his administration would issue next week are not intended to overturn this ban.
“If someone wants to stop us, then let them try to stop us,” Christie told reporters in May. “Am I expecting there may be legal action taken against us to prevent it? Yes. But I have every confidence we’re going to be successful.”
David Deitch, attorney with Washington D.C. based Ifrah Law, said the sports leagues would struggle to get a judge to give them a preliminary injunction because they will not be able to prove they will suffer “irreparable harm” if New Jersey is permitted to authorise sports betting.
“If the many thousands of dollars bet on sporting contests already in Las Vegas and elsewhere is acceptable, how is the addition of sports betting in New Jersey going to somehow undermine the integrity of sports?” he said.
“The sports leagues’ complaint also faces a serious obstacle in that the enforcement of Paspa here would violate the US Constitution – both because of its unequal treatment of different states and the way in which it impermissibly intrudes into the powers that the Constitution reserves to the individual states.”