New Jersey had its day in court challenging the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) that banned sports betting in the states where it did not already exist. PASPA grandfathered in sports betting in four states—Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon—but only Nevada is able to offer single-bet, single-event sports bets. The three other states had offered lottery-style parlay wagers, and are limited to those types of bets.
U.S. District Court Judge Michael Shipp last month upheld PASPA, rejecting New Jersey’s claim that the law discriminated against the state, although it did offer a one-year window during which time New Jersey had the opportunity to pass sports betting and failed to do so.
New Jersey voters approved a sports betting referendum almost 20 years later in 2011, and when it tried to enact regulations and start wagering, the state was sued by the major sports leagues and the NCAA. Shipp had previously ruled that the leagues had standing and would have suffered damage had sports betting been implemented. New Jersey claimed the law violates state sovereignty and equal protection clauses. And just weeks before arguments were to begin, the Department of Justice joined the suit on the leagues’ side.
Shipp said that there cannot be a judicial remedy to New Jersey’s complaints.
“Judicial intervention is generally unwarranted no matter how unwise a court considers a policy decision of the legislative branch,” Shipp wrote in the decision. “As such, to the extent the people of New Jersey disagree with PASPA, their remedy is not through passage of a state law or through the judiciary, but through the repeal or amendment of PASPA in Congress.”
The state has indicated it will appeal the decision to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and, possibly, the U.S. Supreme Court.