Tuesday December 31,2013 : SPORTS BETTING CASE LEGAL FEES ESCALATE IN NEW JERSEY
$2.3 million paid in legal fees as state tries to overturn the PASPA.
Reporter Matt Friedman of the publication Newark Star-Ledger has been doing some arithmetic on the cost of New Jersey's attempt to legalise sports betting in defiance of the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) .
Friedman claims that legal fees to law firms "that employ some of the biggest names in the legal world" engaged for the issue now top $2.3 million and are rising, and he has documents to prove it.
NJ.com commented Monday: "It’s a big hand but the stakes are huge. Analysts say sports betting could generate more than $100 million a year for New Jersey state coffers.”
Spokesmen for Governor Chris Christie, who has vowed to pursue the case all the way to the US Supreme Court and is about to do so after losing three judicial jousts on the case already, say that the end justifies the means, pointing out:
"We all went into this with eyes wide open that it was going to be an extended legal fight against some well-funded interests. We went into this knowing it would be costly … This is what it costs to take a constitutional matter to the Supreme Court."
The Christie administration spent about $1.8 million on legal fees in the case, while leaders of the state Legislature forked over another $525,385.
In 2011, New Jersey voters passed a referendum to allow sports betting, and the Legislature quickly passed it into law, despite the existence of the PASPA, which restricts US sports betting to just four states.
The NCAA and the nation’s largest sports leagues sued, and were joined later by the US Department of Justice.
New Jersey lost the first encounter in a lower court, and went on appeal. In September, a federal appeals court in Philadelphia sided with the leagues. Now, the state’s only option is the U.S. Supreme Court, which may elect not hear the matter.
In detailing expenditure, NJ.com reports that Christie's administration hired the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, which "…assembled a massive team for the case, according to records obtained through the state’s Open Public Records Act. Nineteen of the firm’s partners and 16 of its associates worked a combined 4,353 hours as of October 21, billing the state more than $1.62 million. In addition, the state spent another $183,943 on the firm’s court fees, research, travel and other expenses.
"One of the nation’s most prominent attorneys, Theodore Olson — a former U.S. solicitor general who represented George W. Bush during the 2000 Florida presidential recount – has worked 314 hours on the sports betting case.
"The lawyer who’s done the most work is Robert E. Johnson, a young associate. Johnson, a former editor of the Harvard Law Review, billed 594 hours.
"And one attorney’s name really sticks out. Eugene Scalia, the son of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, worked 11 hours on the case.
"Five state-employed lawyers have also worked a combined 648 hours on sports betting. Based on their salaries, they’ve done about $31,000 worth of work.
"In addition, the state Senate has its own lawyers on the case from the Newark-based Gibbons P.C., spending $525,385, according to Senate Democrats.
State senator Ray Lesniak, who was largely instrumental in driving online gambling legalization through the New Jersey Legislature and also spearheaded the sports betting initiative , told NJ.com that the money spent on legal fees was an investment in a potentially priceless outcome.
"We’re talking about billions of dollars streaming into the economy and thousands and thousands of jobs," said Lesniak, who conceded his initial thought that "it was going to be a relatively easy win … hasn’t turned out to be quite true."
Robert Shore, an analyst at Union Gaming Group, said that sports betting accounts for about $72 million in Nevada’s gaming revenue each year – not counting money it generates through increased tourism. But in New Jersey, Shore said, it would likely produce well over $100 million a year.