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NFL, other sports leagues sue New Jersey over gambling

Chris Christie

Gov. Chris Christie speaks after signing Bill S-1455: Teacher Effectiveness and Accountability for the Children of New Jersey Act at Von E. Mauger Middle School in Middlesex, N.J., Monday, Aug. 6, 2012. Tenure will be harder for New Jersey teachers to get and easier to lose under a law Christie signed Monday after deciding he can live with a compromise that keeps seniority as the way to determine which educators lose their jobs in the case of layoffs. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)


Governor Chris Christie can now accuse the other 30 NFL teams of hating New Jersey.

Along with every other pro sports league. And Rutgers.

The NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, and NCAA have filed suit against New Jersey in response to a plan to launch betting on pro and college games.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Trenton, New Jersey, relies on the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.

It’s a fairly simple proposition. The federal government decided 20 years ago to slam the door on betting on pro and college sports. Congress left a narrow window open, allowing states like New Jersey with no pre-existing sports gambling program to launch sports betting in the period between January 1, 1993 and January 1, 1994.

Any state that didn’t now can’t. New Jersey didn’t.

It’s even more important for the NFL to fight New Jersey on this point, since a pair of NFL teams play its home games there.

Christie surely will bluster about fighting the lawsuit, pushing the concept of states rights. But as we’ve previously explained, the NFL already has won this fight against Delaware, securing a victory not only at the trial-court level but also in the federal appeals court that has jurisdiction over Delaware. That same federal court -- the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit -- also encompasses New Jersey.

This means that the issue already has been settled. As a result, any gambling on pro sports in New Jersey will have to continue on an illegal basis.

The NFL possibly will be surprised to learn that, yes, illegal gambling happens. In New Jersey. And pretty much everywhere else.