NFL, Major League Baseball Sue N.J. Over Sports Betting
By David Voreacos – Aug 7, 2012 11:51 AM ET.
Four U.S. professional sports organizations, including the National Football League and Major League Baseball, sued to block sports wagering in New Jersey, saying it would raise doubts about the integrity of games.
The leagues seek to block a law signed by Governor Christopher Christie in January that would permit gambling at racetracks and Atlantic City casinos on professional and college sports. The National Hockey League, National Basketball Association and National Collegiate Athletic Association joined the complaint filed today in federal court in Trenton.
“Sports gambling in New Jersey would irreparably harm amateur and professional sports by fostering suspicion that individual plays and final scores of games may have been influenced by factors other than honest competition,” the leagues said in the complaint.
Christie, a first-term Republican, has said he wants to bring sports wagering to New Jersey by November without seeking approval from federal regulators. A 1992 U.S. law bans betting in all but four states: Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon.
Christie’s office declined to comment immediately on the lawsuit. The complaint quotes his comments at a May 24 press conference.
“We intend to go forward and allow sports gambling to happen, and if someone wants to stop us, then they’ll have to take action to try to stop us,” Christie said, according to the complaint. “Am I expecting that there may be some legal action taken against us to try to prevent it? Yes. But that’s going to be their burden to try to prevent it.”
The leagues and NCAA asked a U.S. judge to rule that New Jersey’s law, and related regulations, violate the U.S. Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. That law gave New Jersey a chance between Jan. 1, 1993, and Jan. 1, 1994, to enact sports betting. At the time, New Jersey declined.
The complaint seeks to bar New Jersey from implementing the new law, as well as proposed regulations that were published on July 2. The Division of Gaming Enforcement is asking for public comments through Aug. 31. After that, regulators will accept applications for licenses to engage in sports betting.
The leagues and NCAA “cannot be compensated in money damages for the harm that sports gambling poses to the character and integrity of their respective sporting events,” according to the complaint.
“Once their reputations and goodwill have been compromised, and the bonds of loyalty and devotion between fans and teams have been broken, plaintiffs will have been irreparably injured in a manner that cannot be measured in dollars,” the complaint said.
The case is National Collegiate Athletic Association v. Christie, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Trenton).
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