Christie will take sports gambling fight to the Supreme Court

November 20, 2013
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wants to allow sports betting in his state (Mel Evans/AP)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wants to allow sports betting in his state (Mel Evans/AP)

If New Jersey casinos want to offer their customers the chance to bet on this year’s Super Bowl at the Meadowlands — or any game, for that matter — they will need help from the Supreme Court.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) will ask the Supreme Court to allow sports gambling in state casinos after a federal appeals court said late Friday it would not rehear the case.

Professional sports leagues and the NCAA sued to stop New Jersey from pressing ahead with sports wagering after Christie signed legislation in 2012 to make it legal. The leagues say allowing more states to offer betting would have a negative impact on sports.

Christie and New Jersey’s lawyers have argued that a 1992 federal prohibition against sports gambling is unconstitutional, in hopes of allowing Atlantic City casinos and the Monmouth Park Racetrack to offer sports betting.

New Jersey has lost two rounds of court cases over its push, first in U.S. District Court and then in the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. One of the three judges who heard the Circuit Court case agreed the statute was unconstitutional.

Christie’s only move left is to appeal to the high court in hopes it agrees with that lone Appeals Court judge.

“Gov. Christie has said all along this issue should be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, and that’s what he hopes will happen next,” said Colin Reed, a Christie spokesman. “He has asked the attorneys representing the state to file the necessary paperwork. The people of New Jersey voted overwhelmingly to bring sports betting to New Jersey, and the Governor agrees with his constituents and will not give up this fight.”

Four states that allowed sports betting before the federal ban passed Congress — Delaware, Oregon, Nevada and Montana — are grandfathered in.

Voters in New Jersey approved of sports betting in referendum on the 2011 ballot by a wide margin.

Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.
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Reid Wilson · November 20, 2013