Gov. Christie Escalates Battle To Legalize NJ Sports Betting

By Larry Josephson, a freelance writer who lives in Norton, Mass. He can be reached at

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wasted no time late last week in signing a bill that would legalize sport betting in New Jersey, in effect nullifying in the Garden State the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which prevents unfettered wagering on sports events in all states except Nevada.

Gov. Christie’s signature on the new law was immediately met with a demand from the four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA that the federal court issue an injunction preventing New Jersey from implementing sports betting. New Jersey wants to start accepting wagers this weekend at Monmouth Park. However, the leagues
filed a motion for a temporary restraining order Tuesday in an effort to halt New Jersey’s plans.

The state must file its response to the leagues’ restraining order request Wednesday. The leagues will file another reply Thursday, before U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp reviews the filings and decides if oral arguments are required. Judge Shipp will decide if the leagues will be irreparably harmed by betting at Monmouth Park before granting the restraining order.

So what does it all mean?

Gov. Christie had no choice

Four Atlantic City casinos have shut down in recent months and thousands of industry workers have been forced to file for unemployment aid. After four years of staring out of the governor’s office in Trenton and facing the prospect of doing the same for four more years, Christie lusts after the presidency. As the moderate Republican governor of a blue state, he feels he has more than a puncher’s chance at the nomination, especially since the GOP is fragmented.

The sports betting situation doesn’t erase BridgeGate, but it does get Christie’s name in the news in a more positive light. Plus, when he goes on the stump six or seven months from now he can say he poked the Obama Justice Dept. in the eye with a sharp stick, and that should play well with the hard-right base of the party.

Hypocrites Abound

The NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and NCAA are hypocritical frauds. Roger Goodell sends teams to plays in London every year and hypes it as an international outreach, but has yet to demand that the hundreds of betting parlors in England refuse action on the game. The same goes for the NCAA and its regular slate of football games in Ireland.

East Coast Swing

A positive ruling from the District Court in New Jersey could open the door to sports betting throughout the Northeast corridor. Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania –- states whose casinos have severely damaged Atlantic City’s over the last decade –- are among the states keeping a close eye on the proceedings and could soon begin their own challenges to PASPA if their neighbors in Jersey can start accepting sports wagers.

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