Casinos and racetracks in New Jersey have been informed that they can offer sports betting without fear of criminal or civil liability. A combined Statewide Directive has been issued by the Attorney General’s office alongside a motion filed on behalf of Governor Chris Christie in the US District Court.
A federal judge last year issued an injunction to ban New Jersey from implementing the Sports Wagering Act – which called for sports betting to be regulated and licensed in the state – believing it violated federal law, after the state was sued under a 1992 statute. A federal appeals court later agreed with the decision but conceded that there was nothing to prevent New Jersey repealing its own ban.
Acting Attorney General John Hoffman has noted that New Jersey was not regulating, licensing or authorising sports betting, but rather telling casinos and racetracks that they wouldn’t be held liable if they offered such services.
The Garden State has asked the federal court to clarify or modify the injunction which prevents the state from implementing the Sports Wagering Act, and also clarify that it can carry out the directive issued to law enforcement agencies. A ruling is expected on 6 October, until which time casinos and racetracks are expected to refrain from offering sports betting.
Governor Christie last month vetoed a bill that would have side-stepped federal law to offer legalised sports betting at the state’s casinos and racetracks. He described federal law as “sacrosanct” and said that breaking it would be "counter to our democratic traditions and inconsistent with the constitutional values I have sworn to defend and protect”.