Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

N.J. Preps for Legal Sports Betting

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

N.J. Preps for Legal Sports Betting

Article excerpt

It may be weeks or even months before the U.S. Supreme Court rules, but New Jersey expects to win its attempt to end Nevada's virtual monopoly on sports betting, and it is taking steps to get ready.

The director of the state Division of Gaming Enforcement told a global industry conference in London this month that companies offering sports betting platforms should apply for licenses now if they want to get in on the action in Atlantic City.

"Don't sit back and wait for the regulations," DGE Director David Rebuck said, according to casino.org and other industry publications covering the conference. "If you sit and wait, you will be left behind."

Monmouth Park CEO Dennis Drazin said the Oceanport racetrack is expanding its William Hill Sports Bar, named for the London and Las Vegas bookmaking firm that, depending on what the court says, could be taking bets within two weeks of the ruling.

"We built out the sports bar a couple of years ago, and now we're building an expansion out into the grandstand," Drazin said. "We will be ready when the Supreme Court rules."

It is possible the Supreme Court will uphold the 1992 law known as PASPA, for the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, that outlawed sports betting in states that did not legalize it by 1993. Attorneys and industry experts say that is unlikely, however, based on the questions justices posed during oral arguments in December and the fact that the court agreed to hear the case at all.

How fast sports books would open in New Jersey after a ruling depends on whether the court simply overturns PASPA — which could require the Legislature to pass a new regulatory structure — or issues a more narrow decision that simply upholds the creative law New Jersey passed in 2014 to challenge PASPA.

That state law was New Jersey's second attempt to allow sports betting. A 2012 law that created a regulatory structure for taking sports bets at casinos and racetracks was struck down by federal district and appellate courts, and the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal.

But the appellate court had noted that PASPA did not prohibit the state from decriminalizing sports betting, so the Legislature and then-Gov. Chris Christie in a 2014 law gave casinos and racetracks broad freedom to regulate themselves on sports betting.

Proponents believe that to overturn New Jersey's approach, the Supreme Court would have to rule that Congress has the power to order states to pass state laws and regulations, a "commandeering" of state authority that New Jersey argues is barred by the Constitution's 10th Amendment. …

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