06/23/2014 4:46PM

Supreme Court upholds ban on sports betting in New Jersey


The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld a ban on sports betting in New Jersey, stopping a bid to bring sports books for professional and college athletics to Atlantic City casinos and the state’s racetracks, Associated Press reports.

The ruling supported those made in lower courts, which denied New Jersey’s sports betting law because it conflicts with a federal law that only allows state-sanctioned sports betting in Nevada, Oregon, Delaware, and Montana.

Gov. Chris Christie spearheaded the campaign to legalize sports betting in New Jersey, arguing that it would limit illegal betting on sports and funnel some of the money into the state treasury. According to proponents of the legalization, an estimated $500 billion is bet illegally on sporting events each year.

Also supporting the legalization of sports gambling was state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, who wrote the original legislation that was shot down by the Supreme Court and introduced a new bill on Monday that would repeal all laws prohibiting sports betting. Lesniak called for consistency from the Supreme Court to its previous rulings in other areas.

"Aren't they selling marijuana in Colorado and Washington?" Lesniak said to the Associated Press. "Isn't that against federal law?"

Voters in New Jersey overwhelmingly supported legal sports betting in 2011 with a nonbinding referendum, and state lawmakers soon enacted a law to allow betting at tracks and casinos. Bets would not have been taken on games involving New Jersey colleges or college games played in the state.

However, the law faced a hurdle in the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which restricts betting on sports to the aforementioned four states. New Jersey missed a deadline in the law that would have allowed sports betting in Atlantic City.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association, as well as the major professional leagues in baseball, basketball, football, and hockey filed suit to block the New Jersey law from taking effect, and President Barack Obama’s administration also sided against the legalization of sports gambling in the state.