The New Jersey sports gambling case story is not getting a ton of coverage, but it could prove to be a fairly significant one in 2013. In November 2011, the state approved a non-binding referendum to allow sports betting. In January 2012, Governor Chris Christie signed legislation to allow sports betting, and subsequently announced plans to implement a wagering system across the state before the end of the 2012 NFL season.
In making this announcement, Christie stated that those who opposed New Jersey's plan would need to take action to stop them. Such action in the recent past has come under the Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA). The law has regulated sports betting throughout the United States, providing exceptions to states that had sports gambling in place between January 1, 1976 and August 31, 1990. This allowed for different levels of sports gambling in Oregon, Delaware, Montana and Nevada.
The four major professional sports and the NCAA have all taken issue with New Jersey's attempt to pass this new law, and have filed suit under PASPA. Professional and amateur sports have frequently taken up the cause of limiting sports gambling, most recently in Delaware when that state tried to expand its sport betting operation. Delaware was allowed to continue their parlay card system, but could not expand to the level of Nevada, which allows for single-game betting. A federal appeals court ruled that single-game betting in Delaware would violate PASPA.
In September, New Jersey filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that the leagues lacked standing. PASPA is a federal law, which means any party suing under the law must prove they have standing to sue. A suing party must prove standing because otherwise every random person would be in court wasting time and taxpayer dollars on frivolous lawsuits.
Standing requires three things:
1. Plaintiff must have suffered an "injury in fact"
2. There must be a causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of
3. It must be likely that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision
US District Judge Michael Shipp heard arguments for standing on Wednesday, and will issue a ruling on Friday as to whether the leagues have standing to file this lawsuit. One of the primary issues addressed throughout the hearing (as live-tweeted by Joe Brennan) was to what level the injury needed to be. Courts have considered different thresholds when deciding on standing, with it ranging from simply "more than just a mere 'trifle'" to identifiable, concrete injury. In the legal world, that can be separated by the thinnest of margins.
The second issue brought up by Judge Shipp was how the injury could be connected to New Jersey legalizing sports gambling. Nevada has an extensive gambling operation, and the black market provides opportunities as well. The leagues countered the Nevada question by pointing to the need to travel out to Nevada to conduct the gambling.
When Delaware attempted to pass sports betting legislation, the state did not attempt to challenge the leagues' standing in the case. If the leagues are able to prove they have standing, their chances of success would appear to increase fairly dramatically given the appellate court ruling in the Delaware case. That court's ruling against the state does not guarantee victory for the leagues, but it puts them in a much stronger position.