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New Jersey, Leagues Agree to Expedite Appeal in Sports Betting Battle

December 22, 2014

New developments emerged this week in the ongoing legal battle between the state of New Jersey and five major US-based sports organizations.  In the latest, representatives of both sides have agreed to seek an expedited appeals schedule to resolve the ongoing dispute, following the issuance last month of a temporary restraining order by US District Judge Michael J. Shipp which effectively blocked New Jersey’s Monmouth Park Racetrack from launching real-money sports betting services.

new-jersey-stampLocal New Jersey outlets have reported excerpts from the latest consent motion filed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s office in the case.  Christie, as the state’s highest executive, serves as lead plaintiff in the case.

The consent motion has, per local reports, already been agreed to by the five major sports organizations who, to date, have successfully blocked all attempts by New Jersey to implement legal sports betting, which was approved in 2011 via voter referendum.  The five sports organizations are the National Football League, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League.

The agreement means that the US’s Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which received the consent motion, will likely hear arguments in the case early in 2015.  A tentative hearing and filing schedule has already been created, as follows:

  • Jan. 15th: Appellants (New Jersey and associated entities) serve and file their opening briefs;
  • February 13th: Appellees (the leagues) serve and file their responsive brief;
  • February 27th: Appellants serve and file their reply briefs.

Such a schedule would mean that an appellate decision, barring continued filings and hearings, could be issued later in the spring.

New Jersey’s continuing attempts to find a way around the federal-level PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) remains a key element of the latest appeal.  In its motion, the state cites “the proper balance of power between the federal government and the states” as another important consideration.

The complete motion has yet to be published to electronic filing systems associated with the case.  Here’s an excerpt from the motion as published at the Meadowland Matters blog:

“This appeal presents “exceptional circumstances” that warrant expedition. 3d Cir. L.A.R. 4.1. First, this case raises important federalism questions regarding the proper balance of power between the federal government and the states. New Jersey and its citizens have a significant interest in prompt resolution of the validity of a duly enacted state law. Second, this case raises issues that are important to the casino and horse racing industries in New Jersey and to Appellees’ businesses and operations. Accordingly, both Appellants and Appellees have a strong interest in the outcome of this appeal.

“In the face of similar considerations, this Court granted a motion to expedite in the related sports-wagering appeal that was pending before this Court in 2013. No. 13-1713, Doc. 003111220293 (Apr. 5, 2013). The same result is warranted here.

In the meantime, pro-sports betting officials in New Jersey continue a public-relations campaign dedicated to swaying public opinion beyond New Jersey’s borders.  Industry reports have touched on the efforts led by pro-gaming State Senator Ray Lesniak, one of the champions of the pro-gaming bills passed in the state in recent years.

Lesniak’s pro-sports betting petition site, Makesportsbettinglegal.com, continues to serve as an unofficial gathering point for would-be sports bettors throughout the US who would like to see the onerous PASPA law overturned.  Lesniak’s supporters launched the site just prior to last month’s issuance of the TRO against New Jersey by Judge Shipp.

In the latest updates, the site’s caretakers hope to generate a million petition signatures from US residents in support of the cause.  Organizers hope at least 100,000 of those come New Jersey residents, even though that number is something of a show pony, given that legalized sports betting has already been approved by a majority of voters in the state.


About the author

Eric Roberts
Eric Roberts

Sports Journalist

Eric has been a sports journalist for over 20 years and has travelled the world covering top sporting events for a number of publications. He also has a passion for betting and uses his in-depth knowledge of the sports world to pinpoint outstanding odds and value betting opportunities.