Adopted in 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) bans betting on sporting events except in those states where such betting was legal at the time the law was approved, or in any state that legalized sports betting within a year of that date. Four states—Nevada, Oregon, Delaware, and Montana—qualify for this exemption. Nevada is the only state where betting on sports is taking place, but two states—Delaware and New Jersey—have taken steps to legalize sports books similar to those in Nevada.
Status (as of 10/16/12)
Exempt under PASPA, Delaware launched sports wagering in 2009, which was limited by the courts to include only parlay betting on NFL games and bets at the state’s horse racing tracks. Since then, Delaware passed the Gaming Competitiveness Act of 2012 and was signed into law by Governor Jack Markell on June 28, 2012. Among several gaming allowances permitted under this act, it allows for expansion to statewide retail locations, while still being restricted to NFL games and horse races.
In January 2012, New Jersey enacted a sports betting law, limiting bets to Atlantic City casinos and the state’s four horse-racing tracks. Recently, Governor Chris Christie indicated that New Jersey would forge ahead despite the federal ban under PASPA.
In August, four professional sports leagues and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) sued in New Jersey federal court to stop that state from launching sports betting at the state’s pari-mutuel facilities and in Atlantic City casinos. The Complaint in National Collegiate Athletic Ass’n v. Christie, No. 3:12-cv-04947-MAS-LHG (D.N.J), alleges that the state effort, based on legislation enacted in January, violates the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 3701 et seq. The state has vowed to proceed with sports betting after December 1.
Representatives Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) have separate bills to allow sports betting but are working together in a bipartisan effort to gather support to bring sports betting to New Jersey.
Rep. Pallone’s sports wagering bill, “The New Jersey Betting and Equal Treatment Act of 2012” (H.R. 3809), was introduced on January 23, 2012 and would “amend title 28 of the United States Code to exclude the State of New Jersey from the prohibition on professional and amateur sports gambling to the extent approved by the legislature of the State.”
Rep. LoBiondo’s bill, the “Sports Gaming Opportunity Act of 2012” (H.R. 3797), was introduced the same day, and would re-open the window for states to approve and establish sports betting within their borders. This window would be open until January 1, 2016.