Sports Leagues File Complaint to Stop Sports Betting in NJ

By Briana Vannozzi

It’s back to the courts. Legalized sports betting now signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie could be sidelined by yet another blow.

“The leagues, the NFL, NCAA and the rest of them have filed suit to try to stop us, to stop New Jersey from doing what is legally done in Las Vegas, state of Nevada,” said State Sen. Ray Lesniak.

Five major sports entities teamed up and filed a complaint in federal court today, a joint effort to halt wagering — set to start as early as this weekend at Monmouth Racetrack. The complaint states, “while styled as a ‘repeal,’ the 2014 sports wagering law is nothing more than a de facto authorization of sports gambling. Like its vetoed predecessor, the 2014 sports wagering law ‘repeals’ all existing prohibitions, rules and regulations that are specific to sports wagering, but does so only at Atlantic City casinos and horse racetracks throughout the state — in other words, only at venues that are already state-licensed and regulated.”

Lesniak, the prime sponsor of both New Jersey’s original and revised sports betting legislation, says it might cause a hiccup in the rollout, but he doubts the leagues will be granted an injunction.

“We’re hoping that the judge recognizes that number one they don’t have a reasonable chance of success. We’re complying with what the Third Circuit Court of Appeals said we could do. Secondly you also have to prove irreparable and immediate damage. There can be no irreparable damage from New Jersey allowing sports betting when Las Vegas and Nevada already does,” Lesniak said.

The leagues did not return requests for comment on the civil suit today, but the NCAA did say that it continues to believe the spread of legalized sports wagering is a threat to student-athlete well-being and the integrity of athletic competition.

Monmouth Park is likely to be the only institution in New Jersey taking sports bets for now. The operators of the Meadowlands Racetrack and executives for Atlantic City’s casinos have said they’d prefer to wait for a green light from the federal government before they begin.”

“When they see the success at Monmouth racetrack, when there are thousands of people on Sunday waiting to put their bets in and enjoying watching their favorite teams play, they’ll follow suit as soon as possible,” Lesniak said.

Lesniak says a hearing is scheduled to be held tomorrow afternoon for the judge to consider the filing.