Despite losing every decision winding its way through the federal courts, the New Jersey lawsuit challenging the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) that bans sports betting in all but four states achieved a victory of sorts in October.
When a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals turned down the suit by a 2-1 margin in 2014 (following a similar ruling a year earlier), New Jersey attorneys filed a request to the court for an en banc or full court hearing, which was granted. These appeals are usually declined quickly without any response from the winning side—in this case the leagues—required.
To be granted the en banc hearing, a majority of the judges have to agree there is a reason to hear more arguments, so the result is encouraging to those who seek to legalize sports betting in the Garden State. In addition, two appeals court judges have recused themselves from the case, meaning that New Jersey only has to convince six out of 10 judges, instead of seven out of 12.
New Jersey is attempting to circumvent a federal ban on sports betting by instituting a self-regulated industry that could operate at the state’s casinos and racetracks. The state is arguing that the current federal ban is on state-regulated sports betting only.
The Appeals Court panel originally ruled that the state was still regulating sports betting by limiting it to casinos and racetracks, applying age restrictions and other rules.
Legal experts characterized the decision as a victory for Christie.