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The Legal Status of Betting on Sports in New Jersey

New Jersey has been in the news quite a bit in 2014 due to their tenacious efforts to bring legal state based sports betting to their residents to compliment their flourishing online and offline gambling industry. New Jersey sports betting has been on the forefront of the gambling headlines recently, and many interested parties were watching on the edge of their seats to see how things turned out. This section of our guide will explain how NJ leaders tried to bring US based sports betting to the state, why they failed, what state and federal laws affect sports betting for NJ players and what legal options are available. We will cut through the confusion with clear and concise information that is accurate, up to date and insightful. We break it down so that you don't need a law degree to understand, rendering the information actually useful to players. Please keep in mind that this guide is not intended to serve as or replace professional legal services or advice. We are not lawyers. If you seek legal services, we suggest you contact a lawyer. The information on this page applies to all sports venues, including those listed in our guide on how to bet on New Jersey football teams.

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New Jersey Sports Betting Laws – State Level

New Jersey passed legislation legalizing sports betting in the state that was signed into law in January 2012. The law was immediately challenged through a lawsuit that was launched by a group opposing the state's move. The group included the NFL, NBA, MLB and NCAA, among others. Clearly those are some powerful groups with a great deal of financial resources at their disposal to support a tenacious opposition. The opposition won as NJ was told by the courts that they could not add sports betting to their gambling industry. Governor Christie appealed the decision to the Supreme Court on the basis that the PASPA is unconstitutional because it infringes on states' rights. The Supreme Court refused to hear their arguments, thereby rendering the initial court ruling as the deciding factor. The state's leaders have indicated that they are continuing their efforts to legalize sports betting for their residents. At this time, it is not legal to own or operate a sportsbook or any bookmaking services within the state of New Jersey. Bettors are required to access legal offshore betting options in order to enjoy licensed sportsbook gambling, and no state laws or statutes prohibit players from doing so.

New Jersey Sports Betting Laws – Federal Level

There are two specific US federal laws which affect sports betting in the United States. These are the Federal Wire Act and the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. We will explain each of them and how they affect the legal status and availability of sportsbook wagering in the Garden State.

The Federal Wire Act of 1961

This law was passed with specific intentions in mind, none of which included the Internet, which was not even a concept at that time. This is why so many people consider this law very arguable. The DOJ has taken the position of interpreting this law to include only sports betting, and to apply the language to online gambling as well as phone communication. Essentially the the Federal Wire Act prohibits any bets being placed or accepted through wired communications, such as a phone line. It was originally passed in order to put a stop to mob run illegal bookmaking that was operating via telephone wires. It worked as intended and law enforcement was able to effectively impact the illegal operations of organized crime bookmaking and shut them down. Sadly, the law is being used to also prohibit US based online sports betting as well. The law does not apply to those legal online sportsbooks that are licensed, certified, regulated and located outside of the United States.

Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act – PASPA

This is the law that the state of New Jersey was attempting to supersede. They were unsuccessful. The law was passed in 1992 and effectively outlawed sports betting throughout the United States with the exception of a few select destinations that were deemed to be exempt due to their well established gambling industries. The exemptions included Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon. At the time PASPA was passed, the law actually provided a one-year grace period for additional states to participate in the exemption, with the state of New Jersey in mind when adding this option. Oddly, they did not take advantage of this opportunity. We suspect it was a decision they regret at this time following their failure to bypass the PASPA law. Like the Federal Wire Act, the PASPA law does not apply to licensed and regulated offshore sportsbooks.