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Waiting For The Precedent – New Jersey Gambling Laws

 In 2014, Governor Christie signed a bill allowing sports gambling in racetracks statewide across New Jersey. On Monday December 4th, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie talked to media outlets outside of the Supreme Court while the court listened to arguments on whether sports betting could be legalized by states. Governor Christie was addressing his case, Christie vs. NCAA on whether the government has the right to control state lawmaking based on the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992.

Gaming advocates believe that a victory could lead to widespread restructuring of sports gambling across the nation. So far, 15 states have already introduced new sports gambling bills and 4 have already decreed legislation if the PASPA Act is ruled unconstitutional. Policymakers are already acting, on Dec 4th Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nevada) sent a letter requesting a hearing on sports betting to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr (D- New Jersey) has introduced his new Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act (GAME) an effort to provide states with legal framework to adopt sports betting. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. has also conducted an extensive review of federal gaming laws and the impact they cause on legal and underground betting organizations. He believes based on his findings that the system has been largely ineffective as illegal operations remain extensive throughout the country.

Nevada Gaming Control Board chairman A.G. Burnett believes a Federal Regulatory scheme needs to be in place. Nevada has rigorous enforcement requirements for casinos that seek licenses to offer sports betting. He is concerned that some states could produce their own regulations that could be much different from what Nevada already has in place and pose problems down the line and across the board.

American Gaming Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman has an issue with several aspects of PASPA, mainly its inability to restrain criminal activity allied with offshore gambling. While Nevada casinos are developing apps for sports bettors, betting online outside of Nevada is still considered illegal but many experienced bettors just log on to betting sites like Boada or Bet Online and take full advantage of those overseas sites from home. Freeman stated, “The truth is that the customer can pop open their phone, go on their Bovada site and place a bet as fast as they can order an Uber, if our goal is to shut down the illegal market, then we need policymakers to understand what makes that market tick and what can make the legal market an effective counter to that illegal opportunity.”

In 2015, Nevada passed the Senate Bill 40, intended to criminalize illegal activity by associates of offshore books. Federal authorities have cracked down on illegal gambling activities and in recent years dealt with at least two high profile cases in Nevada.

Dennis Drazin is the Chairman and CEO of Monmouth Park in New Jersey and believes that when the Supreme Court issues its ruling in early 2018 two things can happen. The court could deem PASPA unconstitutional a ruling that would open New Jersey up for sports betting a week later via Governor Christie or they could rule that the states 2014 partial repeal is valid. Either way he believes it will be a good thing for the horseracing industry.

Freeman is optimistic that the betting public moves away from the illegal gambling market and believes that overseas sites like Bovada and Bet Online signify the most challenging opponent to legalized gambling in the US. “They have been stealing money from this country for years, their days are numbered.”