Skip to main content
Press Release

Appeals Court Upholds Constitutionality Of New Jersey Sports Betting Ban

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. – The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued a precedential opinion today upholding a federal statute that prevents the state of New Jersey from legalizing sports betting in its casinos and racetracks.

The opinion concludes that professional sports leagues have standing to sue to stop the spread of state-sponsored sports gambling – as provided by the 1992 federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) – and that the act itself is constitutional.

The United States of America intervened in the matter to defend the constitutionality of PASPA. New Jersey U.S. Attorney Fishman argued the United States’ position before the District Court and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

“We are gratified that the Court of Appeals agreed with the United States’ position that Congress acted constitutionally when it enacted PASPA,” said U.S. Attorney Fishman. “The government’s argument was not whether sports gambling should be legalized or is good policy. The government argued and the Court of Appeals agreed that Congress had the constitutional authority to make uniform national policy and not to leave it to the decisions of individual states.”

On Aug. 7, 2012, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball filed suit against New Jersey’s governor, director of the Division of Gaming Enforcement, and executive director of the Racing Commission after New Jersey amended its constitution. The amendment  permitted the legislature to legalize, with limited exceptions, wagering at casinos and racetracks throughout the state on the results of professional, college and amateur sports.

The Sports Leagues’ suit sought to enjoin the implementation of state-sponsored gambling in New Jersey. U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp found that the Sports Leagues had standing to bring their action, rejected constitutional challenges to PASPA and entered judgment against New Jersey. Today’s decision by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s judgment.


Updated March 18, 2015