New Jersey Race and Sports Wagering
In March 2009, Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D – Union), the state legislature’s chief advocate for sports wagering and online betting, filed a lawsuit against the federal government to overturn the ban on sports betting, a necessary measure for a state referendum to take effect. On 8 February 2010, the New Jersey State Senate Committee on Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation approved a bill calling for a referendum on legalizing sports wagering. However, on 10 June 2010, the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee held off on considering the sports wagering bill.
In fall 2011, New Jersey voters passed a referendum that authorized the state to attempt to offer sports betting.
In January 2012, Governor Christie signed legislation allowing sports betting in New Jersey. The law permitted the state's 12 casinos and four racetracks to offer gambling on professional and college sports, but prohibited bets on college events played in New Jersey or on New Jersey college teams playing out-of-state games. The NCAA, NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB filed a federal lawsuit against New Jersey to prevent sports betting, based on the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which banned sports betting in all but four states. On 28 February 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Shipp ruled in favor of the athletic associations. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia upheld the lower court ruling. In June 2014, the Supreme Court declined to hear New Jersey’s appeal.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear New Jersey’s appeal, the New Jersey Legislature passed legislation that would allow private companies to open up and operate sportsbooks in New Jersey’s casinos and horse tracks. The logic behind the legislation was that the lower courts and DOJ had indicated that New Jersey didn’t need to ban sports betting just because the federal government had.
In August, Christie vetoed the legislation, saying the rule of law was “sacrosanct” and he didn’t want to violate the court’s ruling. In September, Christie changed his mind and issued a directive allowing the state’s horse tracks and casinos to offer sports betting. The directive said the companies offering sports betting would not be prosecuted or face civil liability. The directive also banned betting on teams that played in New Jersey (collegiate or pro) or collegiate events in New Jersey.
The New Jersey Racing Commission is responsible for ensuring the safety and integrity of the horse racing industry. It monitors the industry, conducts investigations and prosecutes violations. The Commission has jurisdiction over New Jersey's thoroughbred and standardbred licensees and regulation of racing at the state's four racetracks: Atlantic City Race Course, Freehold Raceway, Meadowlands and Monmouth Park.
In August 2001, the Governor enacted legislation that legalized account betting on horse racing and offtrack betting in New Jersey.
In September 2004, the Commission approved an account wagering application proposed by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA). This action allowed legal online horse wagering in the state.
In July 2006, the NJSEA received approval to implement New Jersey's first standalone offtrack wagering facility, which followed the already operating Account, Internet and Telephone Wagering systems. In 2001, the state legislature approved a bill that called for 15 offtrack wagering facilities throughout the state. The NJSEA was given rights to nine.
In November 2007, the New Jersey Legislature proposed a bill to allow sports betting in casinos. An amendment allowing sports betting at tracks was added after the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association announced its opposition to the bill.
In January 2008, New Jersey's three major racetracks were forced to reduce the amount of purse money offered to winners to try to make up for a deficit in the budget. The tracks also had to reduce race days and lay off employees.
New Jersey legislators have given thought to introducing casino-style gaming at racetracks, but the state constitution specifically requires a referendum for any new form of gambling. The state is required to obtain voter approval before putting VLTs or other games at racetracks. In March 2008, the state Senate approved legislation to give the state's horse tracks a $90 million subsidy from casinos over the course of three years. In addition, the bill kept VLTs out of the tracks for the same timeframe and gave the casinos a potential tax break. In May 2008, Gov. Corzine signed the bill into law.
In June 2010, in order to attract a younger demographic to horse racing, the New Jersey Assembly passed an exchange wagering bill. Exchange wagering allows New Jersey residents to bet against each other on the outcome of races. Bets are typically placed via the internet, but under this bill, people could also bet in person or by phone.
In April 2011, Governor Christie signed two racing bills. The first bill allowed for advanced betting on races not simulcast at the facility as long as the race was simulcast at other state facilities. The second bill reduced the racing season at Meadowlands Racetrack to 75 days to help other racetracks become more self-sustaining.
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