Much To The Dismay Of Residents, Sports Betting In NJ Still Illegal

Updated on September 19, 2016
Jockeys in a horse race

Jockeys in a horse raceLast month, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit thwarted New Jersey’s plan to operate sportsbooks out of its casinos and racetracks.

The court threw out a law that was passed by New Jersey back in 2014, and that would have provided a potentially significant revenue stream to a struggling Atlantic City economy.

A recent poll by Seton Hall University stated that 63 percent of the population believes that sports betting should be legal, and 68 percent of people that responded to the survey said that sports betting’s legality should be decided at the state level.

Despite the combined efforts of a group of New Jersey sports betting proponents, which included lawmakers, casino owners, international sports book operators and members of the general public, the court upheld the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

The defeat was a blow to New Jersey’s already-crumbling economy, which counts on gambling revenue for a large portion of its income.

Reactions to NJ sports betting’s lost legal fight

Geoff Freeman, president of the American Gaming Association, was one of the most vocal in his distaste for the result:

A federal government prohibition has driven an illegal, and occasionally dangerous, sports betting market of at least $150 billion annually. Law enforcement, mayors, leaders in sports, fans and many others agree that it’s time for a regulated sports betting marketplace that protects consumers, communities and the integrity of sports we enjoy.

Sports betting in New Jersey would bring a much-needed influx of revenue for the state. In Nevada, where sports betting is legal, the state grossed $4.2 billion dollars in wagers just last year.

Worldwide, the number of wagers placed annually is a staggering $150 billion.

Many sports organizations, including the NCAA, have been strong opponents of legalized sports betting in the state and have argued the legalization of sports betting would damage the integrity of sport in America. They even went so far as to sue New Jersey back in 2012, saying that the expansion of legal sports betting would lead to more fixing of games.

Recently, however, many professional leagues, including the National Basketball Association, have acknowledged that the country is moving towards legal sports betting and that opposition may have significant negative effects.

Starting as early as 2017, formal lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill may begin for the expansion of legalized sports betting, but for the time being, sports betting in the New Jersey will fall in the hands of illegal bookmakers.

Image credit: Cheryl Ann Quigley /

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