Posted 3/9/11 : More sad news from the Garden State
There was more disappointing news from New Jersey this week as local media reported that Senator Ray Lesniak's lawsuit seeking to overturn a federal sports betting ban has been unsuccessful.
U.S. District Judge Garrett Brown ruled that New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney and state Senator Raymond Lesniak, who filed the complaint, lack legal standing – in other words they are not the appropriate persons to legally challenge the federal sports betting ban.
The two politicians had based their case on a claim that the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act violates the U.S. Constitution.
The judge ruled that in order to prove legal standing, the two Democrat politicians must show that they suffered some harm from PASPA, and that they had failed to do this.
In a nineteen page finding, the judge noted: "The court finds that these plaintiffs have not alleged an actual or imminent injury."
The failed litigation was filed by Lesniak, who was supported by the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association, the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and the Thoroughbred Breeders Association of New Jersey.
PASPA prohibits sports betting in all but four states. Lesniak's hope had been to legalise sports betting and in a separate initiative online gambling in Atlantic City to help pump new life into the resort centre, reports North Jersey.com.
Legalising sports betting in New Jersey could bring in up to $56 million in tax revenues a year, according to some estimates.
Lesniak had earlier this week suffered the disappointment of seeing another of his legislative initiatives derailed when Gov. Chris Christie exercised his absolute veto on an online gambling legalization bill that enjoyed wide support in both the state Assembly and Senate.
Gov. Christie has refused to join the fight against the PASPA, claiming that federal law does not allow for PASPA to be expanded through referendum or an amendment to the state constitution.
Senator Lesniak said he was disappointed with the decision and vowed to bring the lawsuit again after the November referendum on sports betting and possible online gambling legalization. If voters approved the measure, the court will be forced to rule in their favour, he said.
"This law essentially puts New Jersey and 45 other states at a competitive disadvantage and allows only four other states in the nation – Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana – to have a monopoly on legal sports betting in this country," Lesniak said in a statement.
When PASPA was enacted in 1992, it prohibited sports betting nationwide but grandfathered in those states already providing those services. At the time, the law gave New Jersey a year to pass legalization authorising sports betting, but that deadline expired without any legislative approval.