By Mary Cunningham

If Chris Christie thought he could just wave his magic wand and decree that sports betting is permissible in New Jersey he had another thing coming

On Monday, the four sports leagues and the NCAA pushed back in federal court, filing a challenge to the New Jersey governor’s latest attempt to boost the dying Atlantic City gaming business.

“Astounding,” ”specious” and a “blatant violation” were the words used in the filing.

“Defendants’ latest arguments are nothing more than a blatant attempt to circumvent this Court’s injunction and the federal law that it prohibits defendants from violating,” the leagues wrote.

U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp, whose injunction sided with the leagues in upholding the federal ban last year, is expected to rule in Trenton by next week on the matter.

In the meantime, casinos and racetracks remain in limbo as they await a resolution. Monmouth Park officials have said they want to offer sports betting as soon as possible and have been making preparations for the last year.

New Jersey voters overwhelmingly endorsed legal sports betting through a nonbinding referendum in 2011, and the Legislature passed a sports wagering law that was signed by Christie in 2012.

In August of that year, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, Major League Baseball and the NCAA sued Christie to stop sports gambling, citing the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which bans sports gambling in all but Nevada and three other states that had offered sports pools but not individual game betting.

Christie nevertheless this month announced a directive that sports betting at casinos and racetracks was no longer illegal in the state.

The leagues, in their filing on Monday, said that the law passed by New Jersey’s Legislature explicitly saw sports gambling being a state-regulated industry, which would be a violation of the 1992 act. They also argued that since casinos and racetracks are heavily regulated by the state, offering sports wagering there would amount to having it regulated by the state as well.


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