Lawsuit fails to cash in on sports betting, rejected by U.S. District Court

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March 9, 2010

Sen. Raymond Lesniak filed lawsuit in 2009

TRENTON, New Jersey: In 2009, New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak filed a lawsuit in United States District Court that argued that a 1992 federal ban on sports betting in forty-six states, and Washington, D.C., should be deemed unconstitutional. In the lawsuit, Lesniak pointed out that the law treats four states differently than the rest of the country. The ban placed an exemption for New Jersey, which was allowed to decide if it wanted sports betting, but the Garden State failed to pass a law that would have enacted this, which effectively killed the exemption.

Fast forward to the week of March 7, 2011, where United States District Court Judge Garrett Brown dismissed the lawsuit, stating that voters have not weighed in on the issue...yet.[1]

On November 8, 2011, a sports betting constitutional amendment will be on the New Jersey general election ballot for state voters to decide whether or not to allow sports betting. The proposed amendment was sent to the ballot on December 13, 2010, after the state legislature voted in favor of it.[2][3]

The proposal would allow betting on sports events from the amateur to professional level. Betting would take place at casinos in Atlantic City and state racetracks. Those wishing to place a wager on an event would be able to do so in person, by telephone or on the internet. A ban was included on placing bets on college games that take place in the state or where a New Jersey college is involved.[4]

In a statement made by Lesniak about the ruling and the 2011 ballot measure, the state senator said, " [the judges] decision to dismiss, he left the door open for future efforts to overturn the unconstitutional ban in the courts. If voters in the Garden State approve a referendum...we will essentially set up a constitutional crisis, in which the will of the people, expressed at the ballot box, will come into conflict with a flawed and ultimately unconstitutional federal law. I believe that when that happens, the courts will have to rule in our favor."[1]

The U.S. Department of Justice opposed the lawsuit, stating their disagreement to repeal the federal ban, also known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.

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