Christie: Sports Betting Is Legal In New Jersey Now
Bookies in New Jersey suddenly have competition.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie issued a directive Monday allowing his state’s casinos and racetracks to offer sports betting without fear of criminal or civil liability.
His action is likely to be challenged in court by the professional and collegiate sports leagues that fought New Jersey’s efforts to overturn a ban on sports betting in all but four states. That effort ended with the U.S. Supreme Court declining to hear the case.
Christie had seemed to accept the Supreme Court’s ruling. Instead, Monday’s order seems to sidestep it. The state attorney general’s office provided an opinion (below) suggesting New Jersey officials had the authority to repeal old state-level prohibitions on sports betting — as long as the state essentially gets out of the way of the betting — so long as the state doesn’t license those operations for sports betting, in violation of federal law. (In plainer English: The feds can’t stop Jersey from repealing its own laws against sports betting. It can stop the state from licensing those operations. So Jersey is choosing a path forward that lets people bet without the state having quite so much regulatory control over it.)
Long story short: Casinos and race tracks can take sports bets starting today. Lawsuits almost assuredly to follow.