Federal judge to hear arguments on allowing sports betting in New Jersey

TRENTON, N.J. – A ruling could come Thursday after a federal judge listens to arguments for allowing sports betting in New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie wants to test a federal law that bans sports books at most places.

The hearing is scheduled before Judge Michael Shipp in a case that pits New Jersey officials against the federal government and major sports leagues.

Last month, Shipp issued a temporary restraining order to block the opening of sports betting systems at Monmouth Park racetrack just two days before it had planned to accept its first wagers. He’s considering not just whether to lift that temporary restraining order, but also to decide the entire case.

Any ruling he makes likely would be appealed to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

Gov. Chris Christie and New Jersey lawmakers hope that sports betting could help revive the state’s struggling casinos and horse tracks. So far, Monmouth Park is the only facility in the state to announce plans to take bets on sports.

Nevada is the only state where legalized sports betting takes place now.

New Jersey officials intend to allow sports betting at casinos and tracks. But because federal law bans states from sponsoring it, the state does not plan to regulate it if the judge allows gambling.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in an opinion piece in The New York Times last week that he supports allowing sports gambling across the United States. But he said he still opposes what New Jersey wants to do, calling it “unlawful and bad public policy.”

Silver wants a federal law that allows states to establish and regulate sports betting.