New Jersey has been trying for several years to tap into the lucrative world of sports betting as a source of badly needed revenue for the state. That effort took a big hit when the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit struck down the state’s latest ‘craftily worded’ bid to allow betting on sports.
The case was considered so important that it was heard before a very rare en banc session with all twelve Third Circuit Judges sitting. The Court of Appeals ruled almost unanimously, with a 10 - 2 decision in favor of the current law.
Why is New Jersey so intent on actively pursuing sports betting? For one, the once steady stream of revenue that flowed from the casinos in Atlantic City has rapidly gone down over the last several years. Another reason is that Las Vegas, where sports betting is legal, takes in an estimated 4 billion dollars in revenue each year. Illegal sports betting, commonly tied to organized crime, does even better and is thought to generate approximately 150 billion dollars in revenue each year across America.
New Jersey’s legal team argued that, rather than creating a new law, their approach was simply to ‘repeal’ the old sports betting law, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA). The strongly worded Third Circuit decision, specifically on the terminology in the proposal, showed the Court was not remotely swayed by that approach. New Jersey also argued that the new proposal was not tantamount to New Jersey sponsoring or sanctioning sports gambling. Again, the Third Circuit was unconvinced.
Legal experts agree that the sitting judges’ statement on the case was so explicit that it would highly deter any other states from trying to legalize sports betting. Despite that, New Jersey representatives have indicated they will appeal the lower court’s ruling to the Supreme Court.