09/30/2014 10:07AM

Sports leagues challenge New Jersey sports betting in court


Major professional sports leagues and the NCAA have again filed a request for injunction that would prohibit New Jersey racetracks and casinos from offering gambling on their games, arguing in a court filing Monday that the practice would be a “blatant violation” of a court order last year.

The organizations, which include the NFL, NBA, NHL, and Major League Baseball, were widely expected to file the court challenge, three weeks after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the state’s attorney general issued a highly unusual directive to allow sports betting at tracks and casinos. The directive contradicted a court ruling last year contending that sports betting in New Jersey would violate a 1992 federal law, a ruling that was upheld on appeal.

The challenge was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, whose judge, Michael Shipp, issued the injunction last year in favor of the sports leagues. In the suit, the leagues call New Jersey’s latest attempt to circumvent last year’s ruling “astounding” while calling the state’s legal justification for the directive “specious.”

Shipp is expected to rule on the challenge within 10 days.

Since Christie issued the directive, no casino officials in New Jersey have made public statements in support of launching a sports-betting operation. Casinos are regulated on the state level, and many state gambling commissions consider violations of federal law to be significant factors in determining whether to award or renew gambling licenses.

In the immediate wake of the directive, Monmouth Park said it would offer sports wagering within days. However, Monmouth Park’s top official, Dennis Drazin, backed off that timetable just days later, saying that the track needed to determine whether the directive would be legally challenged.