The four major American professional sports leagues and the NCAA filed a motion today in New Jersey District Court to stop a newly-signed law that would allow sports betting here.

Gov. Chris Christie signed into law last week a bill removing state prohibitions on sports betting that proponents say clears the way for such wagers in New Jersey.

The leagues, which include Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association, are now calling for the court to strike down the law, arguing it violates a federal ban on sports betting outside a handful of states and would cause them irreparable harm.

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The federal Sports Protection Act of 1992 made it illegal for state governments aside from those in Oregon, Delaware, Montana and Nevada to “sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license or authorize by law or compact” sports betting.

Bill author Senator Raymond Lesniak, D-Union, argued his measure would not violate federal law since it simply removes prohibitions rather than creating official state support.

Proponents of sports betting in New Jersey have positioned it as a possible financial boost for struggling Atlantic City.

Lesniak said there will be a hearing held tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. for the judge to consider the filing. He said the leagues will be hard-pressed to prove betting in the state's gambling halls and racetracks could cause them irreparable damage.

“This is the beginning of the end, as far as I'm concerned, of the sports leagues trying to keep New Jersey from having what Las Vegas casinos are enjoying as we speak,” he said.

Lesniak added he expects to place the state’s first sports bet Sunday at the Monmouth Park racetrack.


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