No sports betting will take place at Monmouth Park this weekend after a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order against the racetrack Friday at the request of the four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA.The ruling extends the two-year legal battle between state officials and the leagues over New Jersey’s attempts to legalize sports wagering at its casinos and racetracks.
Immediately following the decision, state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), the most vocal advocate for sports betting in New Jersey and the primary sponsor of the latest legislative push, said he was “obviously disappointed,” adding that he felt the judge’s decision “makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.”
Monmouth Park Racetrack had planned on being the first location in the state to offer sports betting, with a target date of Sunday.
Lesniak, who intended to place a bet there that day, said he doesn’t understand why wagers made in New Jersey would be any different than the ones expected to be placed this weekend in Nevada, Delaware and overseas.
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“I’m very disappointed in the judge for not recognizing that there’s no way the leagues are going to suffer any irreparable harm from this,” Lesniak said.
The ruling comes a week after Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation into law that repealed the state’s ban on sports betting, effectively permitting the venues to begin taking wagers on games. The law, which came after the state’s previous attempts were rebuffed in court, reinforces last month’s directive by the state attorney general ordering law enforcement to not enforce the state’s law prohibiting sports betting.
The measure seemingly aimed to maneuver around the 22-year-old federal ban on the practice in all about four states. New Jersey had sought to overturn the law, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, after its attempt to legalize sports betting was challenged by the leagues and the NCAA.
That led to a legal battle that culminated in New Jersey losing at the appellate level and the U.S. Supreme Court declining to hear the state’s case. That prompted the latest round of efforts.
The leagues last week again filed a motion in court in an attempt to prevent the attorney general from following through on his directive, casting doubt on the possibility that Monmouth Park could take bets for this weekend’s NFL games.
Following Friday’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Shipp, Lesniak was part of a chorus of lawmakers who panned the decision.
Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-Middletown), a sponsor of the law repealing prohibitions on sports wagering at racetracks and casinos, released this statement:
“I am disappointed that the temporary restraining order imposed by a federal court will prevent Monmouth Park from starting to accept wagers on sporting events this weekend as was planned. I believe, however, the court will find after a more thorough review that New Jersey’s repeal of prohibitions on sports betting at our racetracks and casinos is compliant with both federal law and the guidance provided in previous federal court rulings.”
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