New Jersey DGE Director David Rebuck says his agency will attempt to legalize online sports betting should the state win its “en banc” appeal in the Third Circuit Court to authorize wagering on athletic events at land-based casinos.
In October of 2014, Gov. Chris Christie signed S2460 into law, a bill that gave permission to casinos in Atlantic City the right to open the books on sports betting.
The authorization was an attempt to revitalize the struggling former gambling mecca, but the NCAA, NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL retaliated with a lawsuit claiming the Garden State’s ratification was in direct violation of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992.
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the sports leagues in a 2-1 ruling, but what is a rarity in the courts, the Third Circuit later agreed to an en banc hearing to re-examine the case.
“If we win that, here’s the next case we have to win: change the sports wagering prohibition to allow for sports wagering to be performed on the Internet,” Rebuck told Gambling Insider.
“If you’re allowed to have sports wagering in the state of New Jersey, then the next action by the state of New Jersey will be to authorize … sports wagering offered through the Internet.”
Not Worried About DFS
Rebuck isn’t the only one longing for sports gambling.
“I am a strong proponent of legalizing sports wagering in New Jersey,” Christie said in 2014.
Along with the DGE boss and governor, State Senator Ray Lesniak (D-District 20) is also championing the movement. Lesniak led the movement to bring Internet casinos to New Jersey in 2013.
Most states are more concerned with the growing popularity of unregulated daily fantasy sports (DFS), specifically market leaders DraftKings and FanDuel.
Neighboring New York is currently attempting to delegalize DFS contests, its attorney general ordering their closure earlier this month.
In New Jersey, leading lawmakers aren’t uneasy with DFS. Instead, they’re pushing all-in with sports betting.
But even if it loses the right to gamble on sports, DFS will remain according to Rebuck who says casinos are already permitted to engage in fantasy sports. “We have regulations on it and have authorized our casinos to engage in that… they have not chosen to do so.”
State Sen. Jim Whelan (D-District 2) disagrees. The former mayor of Atlantic City plans to soon introduce a bill to regulate DFS operators in similar fashion to online gaming.
Banking on En Banc
Slated for sometime in February, the en banc hearing will bring a majority of the circuit judges to listen to arguments for and against legalizing sports betting in New Jersey.
All three judges previously ruling in the 2-1 decision, Judges Marjorie Rendell and Maryanne Trump Barry in the majority and Judge Julio Fuentes disagreeing, will return for the proceedings.
Lesniak is optimistic his side will ultimately win the appeal.
“The fact that a majority of active judges vacated the previous ruling and voted to hear our appeal is a positive sign that reinforces what I believe is a strong and convincing case to allow sports betting in New Jersey,” Lesniak said last month.