New Jersey Sports Betting Appeal Denied

We were hopeful that the New Jersey sports betting appeal would make ground for legal sports betting nationwide, but the judges felt differently. (Photo via imgarcade)

We were hopeful that the New Jersey sports betting appeal would make ground for legal sports betting nationwide, but the judges felt differently. (Photo via imgarcade)

We’ve talked a couple of times in the past about the move to legalize New Jersey sports betting, and how it would affect the future of sports betting in general. This is an important issue for us to revisit from time to time, as it has the potential to affect many of our valued clients. It’s been a while since we had much reason to cover this, but there is an unfortunate new development in the story: the push to legalize New Jersey sports betting has been denied on appeal.

Now, just because the appeal has been denied does not mean that there is no hope for New Jersey sports betting. They still have some options, which we’re going to discuss a bit in this article. We’ll also talk about the potential impact of this legal ruling on sports betting at large, not to mention its impact on sports bettors. Then, we’ll finish by discussing what the potential future of legal sports betting currently looks like.

Impact on New Jersey Sports Betting

Chris Christie can’t be too happy about this decision. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Chris Christie can’t be too happy about this decision. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

First of all, let’s discuss the specifics of what precisely happened. Governor and presidential longshot Chris Christie had been working to legalize New Jersey sports betting at racetracks and casinos for some time, but was facing roadblocks at every turn. The matter eventually wound up in appeals court when the DOJ sided with the sports leagues and the NCAA. (Several sports leagues have actually expressed on and off support for legalized sports betting, but their fickleness is neither here nor there.) The major question during appeals was whether or not New Jersey sports betting would violate the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), which prevents legalized sports betting in every state except for Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon.

Ultimately, the decision was upheld. Three United States Third Circuit judges reviewed the matter, and only judge Julio Fuentes was on the side of New Jersey sports betting (Sports Illustrated refers to his argument as a “spirited dissent”) due to his belief that PASPA never intended a ban on privately regulated casino betting. Judges Marjorie Rendell and Maryanne Trump disagreed. Under their strict interpretation of PASPA, there should essentially be no possible route for legalized sports betting outside of the four previously mentioned states.

Here’s where things actually begin to look a little hopeful. New Jersey sports betting in casinos might appear to be a bust at the moment, although it seems likely that the state will try again soon. In the meantime, a previous decision by Third Circuit noted that they could not prevent New Jersey from repealing their own prohibitions. The only catch was that any sports betting enabled by such a move was to be privately regulated. This is why there is a New Jersey sports betting site owned by the American branch of private bookmaking company William Hill that has still not been shut down.

Websites are one thing, but the major push by Christie and others to implement legal New Jersey sports betting was so that they could implement a new sports betting bar in racetrack Monmouth Park. Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill U.S., believes that this is still possible. More than that, he believes it is necessary. “There’s a massive illegal sports betting market that exists, not only in New Jersey, but all across the country,” says Asher. “That serves to benefit only the criminals who operate it. The sooner that market comes out of the shadows and into the sunlight, the better off we will be.”

Impact on Sports Betting in General

Not long before the appeal was denied, Reuters wrote an article predicting that the legalization of New Jersey sports betting would lead to a nationwide trend. Of course, this isn’t why New Jersey wanted to legalize sports betting in the first place. It was less about the right to place a legal wager and more about the fact that New Jersey’s gaming economy was lackluster at best. Nonetheless, many of us expected that a ruling in favor of New Jersey sports betting would inspire other states to seek similar rights.

It would appear as if the sports leagues made the same prediction. Not all of them were opposed to the legalization of sports betting—in fact, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has long been one of the most notable proponents of the idea that sports betting should be made legal. He believes that it is “good for business,” and acknowledges that it would be better to allow regulated sports betting than to allow such business to be run by underground bookies. But while Silver says that he has run his ideas by other commissioners, he also notes that reactions have been mixed.

The primary opponents of legal sports betting are currently the NFL and the NCAA. Oddly enough, the NFL did not comment on the denial of the New Jersey sports betting appeal. The MLB, however, claimed to be “pleased that the Third Circuit has adopted the position of the sports leagues and the NCAA.” This seems strange, given that MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred stated earlier this year that there was a need for “fresh consideration” on the issue of sports betting, now that it has become more socially acceptable and there is less stigma against sports bettors.

Either way, the point is that sports leagues have long been divided on the issue of sports betting. It seems as if the majority of them are showing support, but the ruling in the New Jersey sports betting appeal indicates that no amount of sport will be enough to change legislation on its own. Many are still certain that New Jersey sports betting will become a reality, and that nationwide legalization will likely follow not long afterward. But for now, sports bettors should not bank on this reality. Legal forms of online betting remain the most proper outlets for sports bettors who do not live in a state that has embraced the proper legalization and regulation of sports betting in other venues.

Impact on Traditional Sports Bettors

 

That last paragraph should hint that the impact of the New Jersey sports betting ruling on sports betting at large will naturally impact sports bettors as well. As previously stated, those from 46 of our United States will have to do all of their sports betting online. After all, we can’t just pile in our respective cars and drive off to Vegas every single time we decide we’d like to place a simple wager.

Luckily, there are a number of outlets for online sports bettors. We’ve covered a few of these in some detail before, such as the incredibly comprehensive online gaming site created by Evander Holyfield. It may not be the same as placing your wagers in person, but it is still much better than nothing at all. In fact, online sports betting actually gives you quite a bit of freedom. You can join multiple sites and play against different odds, all without leaving the house. This is much more convenient than bouncing around from one casino to another while looking for odds that suit you.

If you are not accustomed to betting online, then the New Jersey sports betting ruling might discourage you from betting at all. But never fear. We have an article specifically geared toward guiding you in picking the right sportsbook, a topic which is also covered in our complete beginners guide to sports betting. The key tips to remember are to make sure that the site is reviewed well and that they offer competitive odds. You also want to make sure that it is easy to make both deposits and withdrawals. If deposits are easier than withdrawals, then you risk waiting for weeks just to reap your winnings after a successful bet.

Those who really need help betting online will want to make use of our handicapping consulting services. We offer a selective number of picks each week, along with a few free sports picks from time to time for those who are low on funds and need some extra help. Even though the denial of the New Jersey sports betting appeal makes it seem likely that bettors in most states will be limited to online wagers for some time, there is still a chance for great success through this medium. All you need is a little help.

Impact on Fantasy Sports Bettors

We don’t specialize in fantasy sports, but we’re sure that at least some of our clients may dabble in it. As such, we’d like to take a moment to talk about how those who play fantasy sports are going to be affected by the denial of the New Jersey sports betting appeal. And as it turns out, the effect on the fantasy sports industry and its bettors will be quite limited. In fact, the only people who should really be too concerned about it are the ones who play single-tournament fantasy golf.

Forbes lays out the New Jersey sports betting ruling’s effect on fantasy sports pretty well. Most fantasy sports do not violate PASPA, primarily due to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). The UIGEA protects most fantasy sports as skill-based events in which the outcomes of real-world events do not affect the outcome of a wager or the amount of money that is won. Single-tournament games can easily violate this last stipulation, meaning that the PGA could potentially side against fantasy sports in the same way that sports leagues have sided against New Jersey sports betting. Most other fantasy sports, however, are perfectly safe for bettors.

On a semi-unrelated note, it is worth mentioning that the eSports industry will also continue to benefit from profits. Much like fantasy sports, eSports competitions are not regulated in quite the same manner as traditional sports betting. Betting on video games is not as popular as betting on sports or fantasy sports, but it is clearly growing in popularity. This is evidenced by the fact that eSports are actually now big enough to develop their own doping scandals. Much like real sports, gamers are now required to pass drug tests to ensure that they are not enhancing their performance through artificial means.

Fantasy sports and eSports might not be your thing, but it is reassuring to know that there are always outlets for sports bettors who are looking for a new legal venue. We do not provide handicapping consulting services for these outlets, but we certainly won’t discourage you from trying them if you think they are something that you would enjoy. The entire point of sports betting, aside from profits, is to have fun by handicapping an event that you enjoy. The result of the New Jersey sports betting appeal may be unfortunate, but it doesn’t have the ability to fully take that enjoyment away from us.

Where Do Things Go from Here?

There’s still a chance that Congress will revisit their position on the current laws regarding sports betting. (Photo via Epic Times)

There’s still a chance that Congress will revisit their position on the current laws regarding sports betting. (Photo via Epic Times)

Nobody knows for sure what will happen next. New Jersey sports betting has been struck down yet again, but that doesn’t mean they won’t find new ways to try and have it legalized in the future. Other states might also follow suit. If enough states push at once, then maybe Congress will begin to revisit the situation in order to save our nation the hassle of dealing with the same legal issue on multiple fronts. With enough support, Congress might even decide to revisit the issue anyway, regardless of support.

Of course, there are detractors to the belief that legalized sports betting is an inevitability. Some believe that PASPA will never be repealed. Then, there are those who believe in a middle ground. “I don’t feel that PASPA will ever be repealed, nor should it be,” says eGaming Brokerage founder Sue Schneider. “However, it could be amended to take it out of that ‘moment in time’ when a state had a chance to legalize sports gambling ‘now or never.’” This idea actually makes a lot of sense. As Adam Silver (amongst others) has claimed, sports betting should absolutely be regulated. But it’s ridiculous that a right held by four states is still denied to 46 others, just because they were a little slower on the draw than the original four.

There are clearly some avenues left to seek out legal sports betting. But what of New Jersey, specifically? Well, it’s anticipated that they will try to make an en banc appeal, which would mean that the decision would have to be reviewed by a larger pool of judges. This would give New Jersey sports betting another chance. The only problem with this is that Chris Christie has taken this exact same route before, back in 2013. It didn’t work out so well, seeing as the en banc review application was denied. In other words, it is starting to look as if New Jersey is running in circles.

If it weren’t for their previous failure to win success through an en banc review, we might expect that New Jersey sports betting is still sitting on the horizon. Unfortunately, we cannot make that promise. In the meantime, we can only hope that the current state of New Jersey sports betting does not reflect the future of legal betting in general. In the meantime, those of us in the majority of the United States will have to stick to betting online. To be fair, there are certainly worse circumstances in which we could find ourselves. Online sports betting is certainly a workable compromise for the time being.