NJ’s Bid to Legalize Sports Betting Lost

Some major sports leagues defeated New Jersey’s latest bid to legalize sports betting within the state’s casinos and racetracks on Tuesday by a 2-to-1 majority decision.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia sided with the leagues over those in favor of the bill, stating that it violated the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. However, a petition filing for a hearing to further discuss the bill is expected soon.

There has been an ongoing three-year fight to legalize sports betting in New Jersey led by state Sen. Ray Lesniak, who said he would appeal for a hearing. There are only four states that offer sports betting legally, Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana. Of that group, Nevada is the lone state that has the ability to bet on single games.

Sports Betting Estimates in Billions

Nearly $3.5 billion was reportedly wagered on sports in Nevada three years ago, with estimates of illegal sports betting nationwide in the hundreds of billions on an annual basis. New Jersey had hoped that more casinos could stay open and others may be able to ramp up business with sports betting as an additional option there.

Originally, sports betting was approved by New Jersey voters in 2011 and then blocked when many professional sports organizations and the Collegiate Athletic Association appealed and won. Casinos have struggled immensely in the state over the last few years, prompting many to close due to a lack of business.

The NBA is one of the few leagues that have been in favor of legalized sports gambling, with commissioner Adam Silver writing an op-ed piece in The New York Times on the matter last November. However, many other pro leagues still oppose sports betting, including the MLB and NFL along with the main college sports organization, the NCAA.

Ironically, the NHL is in the final stages of potentially approving an expansion team in Las Vegas, the heart of gambling in the United States. Las Vegas has fought hard to get a pro sports team for years, but the stigma of gambling has prevented that until now. If Vegas does get an NHL team, that could open up an opportunity for the city to welcome an NBA franchise sometime down the road as well.

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