03/01/2013 11:01AM

New Jersey sports betting law struck down


A federal judge late on Thursday upheld a challenge to a law authorizing sports betting in New Jersey, siding with a handful of professional sports leagues that said the law violated a federal ban on the practice.

The ruling, by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Shipp, is a setback to the state’s racetracks, which would have been allowed to offer sports betting along with the state’s casinos if the law was upheld. New Jersey is expected to appeal the decision, with the support of Gov. Chris Christie.

In his ruling, Shipp said that if New Jersey wanted to offer sports betting, its proper course of action would be to work to repeal a federal act passed in 1992 that prohibited sports betting in all but a handful of states. The act grandfathered in four states that had allowed some type of sports betting prior to passage, and New Jersey was not one of those states.

“To the extent the people of New Jersey disagree with [the act], their remedy is not through passage of a state law or through the judiciary, but through the repeal or amendment of [the act] in Congress,” Shipp wrote.

New Jersey voters approved a referendum in 2011 authorizing sports gambling, and the legislature passed a bill codifying the practice the next year. Following the passage of the bill, the NBA, NFL, NHL, Major League Baseball, and NCAA challenged the law in federal court, contending that it violated the 1992 federal ban.