New Jersey Sports Betting

Your Guide To Legal Sports Betting In New Jersey

How Much Illegal Sports Betting Happens In New Jersey?

The counter below represents a running total of the estimated amount New Jerseyans have wagered on sports through illegal, unregulated channels so far in 2018.


Background on NJ sports betting

The New Jersey sports betting case is headed to the US Supreme Court. The highest court in the land heard arguments on Dec. 4. It is not entirely clear which way SCOTUS will lean, but insiders like New Jersey’s chances.

That’s the latest — and best — news the state has gotten in its efforts to legalize sports betting over the past five years.

NJ sports betting and SCOTUS

New Jersey didn’t actually win anything when the US Supreme Court agreed to take its case in its ongoing efforts to legalize sports betting inside its borders, but it sure felt like one for the Garden State.

The nation’s highest court granted NJ’s appeal in the case that dates back to 2012 in two separate sports betting laws and strings of court appeals.

The two sides presented their oral arguments to the court on Dec. 4. Now, the Supreme Court will rule once and for all whether the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act — PASPA — is constitutional.

A finding for the pro sports leagues — the plaintiffs in the case — would result in the status quo, which is a prohibition on single-game wagering outside of Nevada. A finding for New Jersey would mean that the state could offer sports betting in the state. Other states, potentially, could also lift their sports betting bans in that scenario. (PASPA prevents any state from legalizing sports betting, currently.)

New Jersey has argued that the case is a matter of states’ rights. The federal government, NJ argues, is telling states what they can and can’t do with a law that violates the Tenth Amendment. That argument has not proved to be compelling in the lower courts, to date. Pretty much any other form of gambling states are allowed to legalize and regulate.

The timeline for the NJ sports betting case

We don’t know exactly how things will play out in SCOTUS. But do not expect a ruling right away. It will likely be early spring 2018 before SCOTUS announces a decision.

Reading on the NJ sports betting case

The start for NJ sports betting

New Jersey has been trying to legalize sports betting since 2011. That is when voters approved sports betting in a nonbinding referendum. This gave state legislators the green light to pass a bill and they did, almost unanimously.

Governor Chris Christie signed the bill into law in January 2012.

Sports betting in court, take one

It immediately drew reaction from four professional sports leagues and the NCAA. The U.S. Department of Justice also took notice. The group filed a lawsuit to stop sports betting in New Jersey.

The argument was that PASPA made it illegal for New Jersey to regulate sports betting. The plaintiffs stipulated that New Jersey could decriminalize sports betting, but not regulate it. The lawsuit prevailed in the lower courts. In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

New Jersey’s second law

On September 8, 2014, Governor Christie issued an order that lifted the ban on sports betting. This was interesting because Gov. Christie vetoed a bill that essentially did the same thing in August 2014. New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman made sure that law enforcement was aware of the change in state position.

The opinion is that the portion of New Jersey’s law that repealed sports betting withstood the court challenge.

Gov. Christie signed a bill into law that made the state’s legal position official on October 17, 2014. It repeals all prohibitions of sports betting at any gaming establishment, including racetracks and New Jersey casinos.

Sports betting heads back to court

The NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and NCAA filed an injunction request asserting that New Jersey sports betting would cause irreparable harm to their businesses. The courts granted a temporary injunction on October 24, 2014. The judge in the case later sided with the sports leagues.

In March 2015, New Jersey and the sports leagues presented arguments before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. New Jersey argued that its law was in line with the previous ruling from the court. New Jersey felt like the Third Circuit gave guidance to the state as to how it could work within the limits of PASPA.

The sports leagues claimed that repealing prohibition at gaming establishments was no different than regulating the activity. A ruling by the Third Circuit sided with the sports leagues.

The state then appealed the case to the Third Circuit — this time asking for a larger en banc panel of judges (12) to rehear the case. In a rare move, the court agreed. But the end result was the same, as nine of the 12 judges side with the leagues once again.

That led to the case again being appealed, this time to the nation’s highest court. This time around, SCOTUS agreed to take the case.

Latest NJ sports betting news

New Jersey sports betting FAQ

When can I bet on sports in New Jersey?

Right now you cannot bet on sports in New Jersey, unless it is a daily fantasy sports style game. Monmouth Park will likely be the first sports betting venue, but casinos in Atlantic City might be ready to launch immediately, as well. For example, Borgata is moving forward on building a sports book in advance of a SCOTUS decision.

The date of a rollout would depend on a Supreme Court ruling in favor of New Jersey or the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act by Congress.

What is the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act?

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act passed in 1992.

It exempted four states – Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon – but banned all other states from legalizing sports betting. The four exempted states can only offer sports betting it offered before the act went into effect.

New Jersey had one year to legalize sports betting. It failed to act in time.

What sports betting is legal in PASPA’s exempted states?

Nevada offers a full slate of sports betting.

Delaware offers NFL parlay cards through its lottery. Montana spreads NFL and NASCAR fantasy sports betting.

The Oregon Lottery offered Sports Action starting in 1989. It sold NFL parlay cards, and for one year NBA parlays were also accepted. Oregon stopped Sports Action after the 2006 NFL season.

Where will sports bets be accepted?

New Jersey racetracks and casinos in Atlantic City will be able to book sports bets if the law is deemed legal.

What sporting events would be included in NJ sports betting?

Bets will be accepted on all professional sporting events. College sports betting will also likely be available. The exception is collegiate events played in New Jersey or involving teams from the state.

What colleges are excluded?

While betting on all colleges located in New Jersey will be illegal, Rutgers and Seton Hall are the major Division I colleges in the state.

Does this include fantasy sports?

Betting on fantasy sports was already legal. Currently Resorts is the only casino with any sort of DFS wagering. Its product is called FastPick.

Will New Jersey tax and regulate the NJ sports betting industry?

According to previous stories, Gov. Chris Christie said at a news conference “state government would have no role in either regulating or taxing sports books” and “…he would not encourage or discourage casinos or racetracks to get into the business.” If SCOTUS strikes down PASPA, that’s likely to chage.

Last updated: January 2018.

A complete timeline of NJ’s sports betting battle

New Jersey’s battle to legalize and regulate sports betting at casinos and racetracks inside the state has been a lengthy process. Below is a timeline of key events leading up to the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the state’s challenge of a federal ban on sports betting in beginning in the Fall of 2017:


The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) is passed, making sports betting illegal in all but four exempt states. The states include Nevada, Oregon, Montana and Delaware, although full legal sports betting is really only allowed in Nevada. Other states are offered the opportunity to apply for exemption, but none do, including New Jersey.


Longtime New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak announces his intention to sue the federal government in a bid to have PASPA repealed. Lesniak is quoted at the time claiming billions of dollars are being bet illegally and offshore, through the internet and organized crime. He claims that’s money that should be taxed in New Jersey.

In fact, he claims allowing sports betting at casinos and racetracks across the state could help the state earn more than $100 million annually, based on an 8 percent tax on gaming revenues.

November 8, 2011

New Jersey voters support a referendum asking if the state legislature should pass a bill making it legal to bet on sports at casinos and racetracks across the state. The measure actually passed 648,769 votes to 367,283. In other words, 64 percent of New Jersey voters stood behind legal sports betting.

November 9, 2011

U.S. House Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. announced plans to introduce legislation in congress to have PASPA repealed and allow New Jersey to set up the framework for a legal sports betting market.

State Sen. Raymond Lesniak announces plans to introduce legislation to authorize the Casino Control Commission to issue licenses for sports betting to casinos and racetrack operators.

December 1, 2011

The State Senate Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee approve a bill that would permit sports betting at state racetracks and casinos.

January 9, 2012

The New Jersey State Legislature approves a bill allowing the state’s Casino Control Commission to issue licenses to casinos and racetracks to accept bets on certain professional and collegiate sporting events. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed the legislation later in January.

New Jersey Federal Rep. Frank LoBiondo files a proposal with the United States Congress asking that individual states be given the ability to circumvent PASPA. New Jersey Federal Rep. Frank Pallone files a similar proposal specific to New Jersey.

May 2012

Gov. Christie announces the state is moving forward with regulations to install sports betting in Atlantic City casinos and racetrack facilities across the state.

July 2012

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), and National Hockey League (NHL) file suit against the State of New Jersey’s Governor, Assistant Attorney General, and Executive Director of the New Jersey Racing Commission in an attempt to prevent the state from establishing a sports gambling market.

The complaint claims New Jersey’s plans violates PASPA and asks the U.S. District Court District of New Jersey for a declaration confirming that position.

New Jersey argues PASPA is unconstitutional. The state claims the act treats Nevada favorably and unlawfully bars New Jersey from its right to govern or regulate something for which there is no federal regulations.

February 2013

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Shipp rules in favor of the leagues and affirms PASPA’s constitutionality.

September 2013

Two out of three judges on a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit panel also side with the leagues and affirm PASPA’s constitutionality. The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear an appeal of the case

September 2014

Gov. Christie and New Jersey Acting Attorney General John Jay Hoffman file a motion with Judge Shipp asking the court to hold that the state is not required to criminalize sports betting. The argument is that the Third Circuit held against New Jersey and affirmed PASPA. However, it also held that a state may repeal its own sports wagering ban without violating PASPA and that each state is free to determine what its own prohibition on sports betting should be.

October 2014

Gov. Christie signs legislation that essentially decriminalizes sports betting at state racetracks and casinos. Christie claims the legislation follows the correct and appropriate path to legalized sports betting in light of previous court decisions. The New Jersey Sports betting market is set to open up October 26. Monmouth Park, a thoroughbred race track in Oceanport, NJ, plans to be the first to take bets.

However, the leagues file suit and once again, Judge Shipp rules against New Jersey, ordering a temporary restraining order barring Monmouth Park from conducting sports wagering and stopping the state from implementing its sports wagering decriminalization legislation.

A week later, Shipp turned that temporary restraining order into a permanent injunction granting final summary judgment in favor of the leagues. His ruling affirmed that PASPA and its federal ban on sports gambling was constitutional and superseded state law.

March 13, 2015

Gov. Christie, the state legislature, and the owners of Monmouth Park racetrack file an appeal of Judge Shipp’s latest ruling

August 25, 2015

For the second time in less than two years the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the lower court ruling against sports betting in New Jersey. It was again a 2-to-1 vote.

October 2015

New Jersey’s battle for legalized sports betting gets new life when the full U.S. Third Circuit Court grants Gov. Christie’s request it hear the case.

February 2016

The state was granted what is referred to as en banc hearing in October 2015 and in February 2016, attorneys present the case to all 12 active judges of the Third Circuit Court.

August 2016

The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals rules 10-2 in favor of the sports leagues and PASPA, essentially blocking New Jersey’s attempt to legalize sports betting. New Jersey asks the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal.

January 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court invites the Acting U.S. Solicitor General to file a brief in the cases expressing the views of the United States on whether it should hear New Jersey’s appeal.

May 2017

Acting US Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall advises the Supreme Court not to hear New Jersey’s sports betting case. All indications are that the Supreme Court will render a decision on whether to hear the case by the end of June. However, most pundits are calling the case dead considering the court follows the advice of the Solicitor General better than 80 percent of the time.

In the meantime, Federal New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. releases a draft of a bill calling for the repeal of PASPA. It’s called the Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act or GAME Act.

June 27, 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear arguments on whether sports betting should be legalized at racetracks and casinos in New Jersey. No reason for agreeing to hear the appeal is given. Oral arguments are expected to begin in the Fall of 2017. The U.S. Supreme Court session will begin in October 2017. Sports betting will get its day in court on Dec. 4.

Dec. 4, 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments from both sides of the case. Based on the various questions from the Justices, pundits expect a ruling in favor of New Jersey, but nothing will be certain until written opinions are issued next year.

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