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Pro Sports Get N.J. Gambling Law Tossed

(CN) - New Jersey casinos and racetracks cannot permit sports gambling, a federal judge ruled, finding such an expansion barred by the U.S. government.

Gov. Chris Christie legalized gambling on professional, college or amateur sports at casinos and racetracks by signing the New Jersey Sports Wagering Law in January 2012.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball then sued Christie, Gaming Enforcement Director David Rebuck and Racing Commission Executive Director Frank Zanzuccki in August.

They claimed that the law violates the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), which prevents the expansion of state-sponsored sports wagering.

Three days later, the leagues moved for summary judgment and asked the court to enjoin implementation of the law.

After U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp refused to dismiss the case on Dec. 21, the state and an intervening defendant, the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, filed briefs challenging PASPA's constitutionality.

The U.S. government intervened on Jan. 22, urging the court to uphold PASPA.

Shipp agreed and granted the leagues summary judgment, as well as a permanent injunction, on Thursday.

The judge found that Congress rationally concluded that legalized sports gambling would impact state commerce.

"PASPA was enacted to prevent the spread of legalized sports gambling and safeguard the integrity of professional and amateur sports," Shipp wrote. "The Senate Judiciary Committee has concluded that sports gambling is a 'national problem' that in the absence of federal legislation would spread throughout the country unabashedly."

New Jersey failed to show that PASPA violates the 10th Amendment's limitations on congressional powers.

"Congress has chosen through PASPA to limit the geographic localities in which sports wagering is lawful," the 45-page opinion states. "It does no more or less. The court, therefore, cannot conclude that PASPA usurps state sovereignty. The fact that gambling might be considered an area subject to the states' traditional police powers does not change this conclusion."

PASPA does not commandeer the states, either, according to the ruling.

"State authorized sports wagering cannot reasonably be described as purely pertaining to the internal policies of a state," Shipp wrote. "Because sports wagering's effects are felt outside the state, and the ability to regulate gambling is within the purview of Congress, Congress' restriction of such does not violate or constrain any 'attributes essential to [New Jersey's] equality in dignity and power with the other states.'"

PASPA furthermore does not violate of due process and equal protection protections of the Fifth Amendment, according to the ruling.

"It is clearly established that the state of New Jersey, as a governmental entity, is not a 'person' and therefore is not afforded the protections of the due process clause," Shipp wrote.

The plaintiffs met all requirements for a permanent injunction against the Sports Wagering Law.

"Defendants are permanently enjoined from sponsoring, operating, advertising, promoting, licensing, or authorizing a lottery, sweepstakes, or other betting, gambling, or wagering scheme based, directly or indirectly (through the use of geographical references or otherwise), on one or more competitive games in which amateur or professional athletes participate, or are intended to participate, or on one or more performances of such athletes in such games," Shipp wrote.

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