The major professional sports leagues finally have a response to the sports betting case appeal in New Jersey—drop it.
Early this month, the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals asked the four major sports organizations—NHL included—and the NCAA to file a response in the sports betting case. The order came after New Jersey asked for an “en banc” review by the full 23-judge circuit following August’s decision.
To recap, the three-judge panel of the appeals court rejected in a 2-1 vote New Jersey’s appeal of a ruling that bars the state's latest bid to allow sports betting in local casinos and race tracks.
On Tuesday, however, the organizations told the court that there is no need for the entire 23-judge circuit to take up the issue, NewJersey.com reported.
The media outlet quoted Paul Clement, former U.S. solicitor general who now represents the leagues, who wrote in a 20-page brief that the “defendants ask this court to resolve a conflict that does not exist, in hopes of reopening a constitutional question that they already lost.”
Legal sports betting supporters were delighted with the appeals court’s rare directive. According to Florida lawyer Daniel Wallach, en banc requests are usually denied but New Jersey is a special case since “it had all of the right elements, such as a dissenting opinion, an intra-circuit split, and an exceptionally important issue.”
In 2013, New Jersey lost the case because its sports betting law called for governmental regulation and oversight of gambling, which is forbidden under the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Judge Julio Fuentes, the lone dissenter in the August 2015 vote, said his colleagues failed to show how the new law “results in sports wagering when there is no law in place… and no state involvement.”
Clement said the New Jersey government misinterpreted last month’s ruling that states that the revised sports betting law left an option for racetracks and casinos to run their own sports betting operations, which amounts to an illegal authorization of sports betting by the state.
There’s another option for New Jersey: ask the U.S. Supreme Court for a review. But the highest court only accepts about 1 percent of all the petitions that it receives, and it had already turned down New Jersey’s application for review in the previous version of its sports betting case last year, according to ESPN.
A triumphant end to sports betting legalization is nowhere in sight for New Jersey, and this new setback may finally push the state to shelf its wagering plans—at least temporarily—as it sharpens its claws for the next legal battle.