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Other states firm with Christie in challenging federal power to bar sports betting in N.J.

by: John Breennan - - posted on: 05-Nov-2013

Four states on Monday reiterated their formal support for Governor Christie's efforts last week to gain a re-hearing of a sports betting lawsuit at the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. That court in September, by a 2-1 majority of the panel, upheld a U.S. District Court judge's ruling this year that New Jersey's sports betting law is overridden by a 1992 federal law prohibiting such gambling in 46 states.

State officials in Virginia, West Virginia, Kansas and Georgia as they did before the prior ruling offered their support for the philosophical stance offered by New Jersey while expressing no opinion on the merits of sports betting. Christie and his allies who include the state's thoroughbred horsemen and state Senate President Stephen Sweeney argue that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 violates the U.S. Constitution because it "commandeers" the states' authority into not being allowed to offer the gambling.

The New Jersey law would permit the betting at Atlantic City casinos and the state's horse racing tracks. "Congress may enact generally applicable federal rules of decision that supersede contrary state law, but cannot 'commandeer' a State's authority by telling it how to regulate its own citizens," wrote renowned attorney Ted Olson on behalf of New Jersey.

"The supposed 'problem' of State-sanctioned sports wagering is not rationally addressed by a statute that categorically excludes the States (e.g., Nevada) that manifest that 'problem,' " Olson added. Aside from Nevada continuing to be able to offer widespread sports betting, the law sponsored by then U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey also allowed Delaware, Montana, and Oregon to continue to offer the more limited betting those states already had offered. The law gave one state New Jersey one year to implement a sports betting law, but the state Legislature did not act on that option.

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