Judge rules against N.J. sports betting

Gov. Christie says he plans to appeal federal decision

Newark, N.J. - Gov. Chris Christie indicates he'll appeal a federal judge's decision upholding a ban on sports gambling in New Jersey.

The judge's ruling released late Thursday night has dealt a setback to New Jersey's efforts to save its struggling casino industry by tapping into a multibillion-dollar market.

Last year, Christie challenged a 1992 federal law prohibiting sports gambling in all but Nevada and three other states. He had hoped to issue licenses to sports betting operators in New Jersey by early this year.

The four major pro sports leagues and the NCAA sued last year to stop New Jersey's plans.

Christie said through a spokesman Friday that he still believes the federal ban is unconstitutional and that an appeals court will side the New Jersey.

State Sen. Ray Lesniak, the prime sponsor of the sports betting bill, said New Jersey would appeal Shipp's "patent misinterpretation of the Constitution."

"This is a huge disappointment for all of us who continue to believe that New Jersey should have the right to allow sports betting," Lesniak said in a statement. "Along with online gaming, sports betting would allow New Jersey to be in the forefront of the modern gaming industry, creating jobs and providing both immediate and long-term economic benefits."

This week, Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill making the state the third in the nation to allow gambling over the Internet. New Jersey's casino industry has seen revenues decline steadily over the last several years in the face of competition from neighboring states. Atlantic City's newest casino, Revel, announced last week that it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection next month, about a year after it opened.

New Jersey voters passed a sports betting referendum in 2011, and last year the legislature enacted a sports betting law that limited bets to the Atlantic City casinos and the state's horse racing tracks. Bets wouldn't be taken on games involving New Jersey colleges or college games played in the state. Christie said at the time that he hoped to grant sports betting licenses by early this year, but those plans have been put on hold. Christie's spokesman didn't immediately respond to an email Friday seeking comment on the decision.

The NFL, NHL, NBA, Major League Baseball and the NCAA sued the state last year, and the NCAA has moved several of its championship events out of New Jersey because of the sports betting law.

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