New Jersey’s attempt to overturn a federal court decision barring it from authorizing sports betting is proceeding in the U.S. Court of Appeals with judicial officials opening a docket for the case Monday.
State officials, who filed a notice of appeal last week, will have two weeks to submit documents, including a concise summary of the case, to the appeals court, according to judicial filings.
New Jersey is appealing a February decision issued by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Shipp, who granted a permanent injunction barring the state from authorizing and regulating sports betting. Shipp sided with the five professional and amateur sports organizations and U.S. Department of Justice, which argued New Jersey was violating a federal law barring states from authorizing sports betting in all but four jurisdictions where the activity was legal prior to the legislation’s enactment in 1992.
New Jersey, which declined the opportunity to join the list of exceptions 20 years ago, argued the federal legislation was unconstitutional for a number of reasons, including that it treated states unfairly and “commandeered” a state’s right because it requires local officials ban sports gambling.
The matter now heads to a three-judge appeals panel to decide. Gov. Chris Christie has said he intends to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.
While the state has been blocked from legalizing sports betting, the Division of Gaming Enforcement on Monday published regulations authorizing casinos to run fantasy sports tournaments, allowing them to charge patrons entry fees and pay out tournament winnings through the casino cage, similar to how gamblers collect their winning.
Fantasy sports is not considered gambling, according to state officials, and the sports organizations that sued the state to block from authorizing sports wagering. In the course of arguing the sports betting case, lawyers representing the sports organizations, which heavily promote fantasy sports, said the difference was fantasy sports involves imagery teams competing with one another, even though who wins and loses is based on statistics generated by athletes competing in real games.
"The leagues view fantasy as just that," Jeffrey Mishkin, the lawyer representing the sports organizations, said during arguments in front of Shipp on Dec. 18. "It's the difference between playing Monopoly and real estate."