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Lesniak unimpressed with leagues’ latest challenge to sports betting

State Sen. Raymond Lesniak is not worried about professional and collegiate sports leagues' push for an injunction against New Jersey sports betting.-(AARON HOUSTON)

Déjà vu, all over again? The National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball and the National Collegiate Athletic Association all filed paperwork Monday in U.S. District Court seeking an injunction against New Jersey’s latest push to bring sports betting to the state.The National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball and the National Collegiate Athletic Association all filed paperwork Monday in U.S. District Court seeking an injunction against New Jersey’s latest push to bring sports betting to the state.

On Friday, Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation into law that repealed the state’s ban on sports betting, effectively permitting casinos and racetracks to begin taking wagers on games. The law does impose an age requirement of 21 and prohibits bets on events involving New Jersey-based colleges and the transfer of sports betting equipment across state lines.

RELATED: Christie signs sports betting bill into law

In 2012, the leagues filed a similar motion after Christie signed legislation to allow sports betting, arguing that the state was in breach of a 1992 federal law limiting regulated sports betting to just four states, and excluding New Jersey. After nearly two years of legal challenges, the state failed to overturn the law and the U.S. Supreme Court did not move to take up the case.

But New Jersey legislators say the latest push, crafted by state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), is in compliance with federal law because the state is not implementing its own regulated sportsbook, but rather, just repealing its ban to allow casinos and racetracks to operate one.

Monmouth Park Racetrack has already said it plans on being the first to offer sports betting in the state, with a target date of next Sunday.

Lesniak says that, in order for the leagues to succeed in their request for an injunction this time around, they will have to prove they would be “irreparably damaged” if New Jersey casinos and racetracks were to begin taking bets. Given that Nevada currently operates a large sportsbook and the NFL continues to hold games each year in the United Kingdom, where sports betting is legal, Lesniak says the court would be “hard-pressed to grant that injunction.”

“I don’t know how that is any different than the entire state of Nevada taking sports bets every single day,” Lesniak said.

Lesniak says the latest filing by the leagues “shouldn’t” pose any threat to Monmouth’s plans to begin taking bets on Sunday.

Or at least he hopes so, because he plans on being there to place the first sports bet in the state’s history.

“I’m not going to change my plans,” Lesniak said. “That’s for sure.”

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