U.S. top court declines to revive New Jersey sports betting law

Two men talk as the sun rises over the Supreme Court in Washington June 23, 2014. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New Jersey’s attempt to introduce licensed sports betting has failed, with the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday leaving intact a lower court ruling that said a federal law did not allow it. The high court declined appeals filed by the state and its supporters over a September 2013 ruling by the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said the state’s efforts were trumped by a federal law that prohibits the practice in most states. Governor Chris Christie had signed a law in 2012 that authorized sports betting at the state's racetracks and at Atlantic City casinos. But sports leagues, including the National Football League and the National Basketball Association, sued, and a federal judge struck down the law in March 2013. New Jersey officials hoped that legalized sports wagering would generate more revenue for Atlantic City's gambling industry, which has lost customers to a spate of new casinos opening in nearby states. The legal challenge focused on a law passed by Congress in 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which blocked states from allowing legalized sports wagering. Four states that had already legalized sports betting at the time were grandfathered into the 1992 law and allowed to continue. New Jersey had one year to opt in, but never did. The related cases are Christie v. NCAA, New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association v. NCAA and Sweeney v. NCAA, U.S. Supreme Court, No 13-967, No, 13-979 and No. 13-980. (Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Additional reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Howard Goller and Sofina Mirza-Reid)