The federal ban on sports betting in all but four states was upheld Tuesday, dealing a blow to New Jersey’s latest effort to expand gambling options to help its struggling casinos and racetracks.
But the 2-1 ruling by a panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia left the door open for New Jersey to further appeal the matter to the full court.
“We are reviewing the opinion, and the dissent, and considering our legal options,” said Leland Moore, a spokesman for the state Attorney General’s Office. The state has been trying since 2009 to legalize sports betting at its casinos and racetracks. Four of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos closed in 2014. At issue in the appeal was whether a 2014 New Jersey law repealing prohibitions against sports gambling violates a 1992 federal ban in all states except Nevada, Oregon, Montana and Delaware.
New Jersey was given the chance to become the fifth state before the ban was enacted but failed to act during a prescribed window. State Sen. Ray Lesniak said the judges got it wrong and predicted the case would be appealed shortly. “We repealed a law for sports betting at casinos and racetracks, and that does not violate” the federal ban, said Lesniak, a Democrat. “We are allowed to do that.”
Judges Maryanne Trump Barry, the sister of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, and Marjorie Rendell ruled that the state can’t use “clever drafting” to get around the federal ban, citing language in the 2014 law that it “shall not be construed as causing the state to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize” sports betting.
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