A judge for the US District Court for the District of New Jersey [official website] on Thursday upheld a 21-year-old federal law prohibiting gambling, dealing a setback to New Jersey's attempts to legalize sports betting. Judge Michael Shipp ruled [AP report] that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) [text] is constitutional, even though it is extremely unpopular in the state. PASPA only allows gambling in only four states, which do not include New Jersey. Shipp rejected New Jersey's arguments [Courier Post report] that PASPA violates constitutional guarantees of state sovereignty and equal protection, saying that if New Jersey citizens disagree with the act, they should seek to have Congress repeal it rather than fight it in the courts. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie plans to appeal the ruling to the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official websites].
Sports gambling has been a controversial legal issue recently, especially in New Jersey. In October JURIST guest columnist Kathryn Young defended New Jersey's sports betting law [JURIST comment], arguing that gambling can effectively increase states' revenue and should be viewed outside of its negative connotations. that There is a presumptive prohibition on most forms of gambling in the US, although restrictions on some forms of Internet gambling were loosened late in 2011 when the Department of Justice (DOJ) clarified that non-sports online gambling is presumptively legal [JURIST report]. In January 2012 Patrick Fleming [advocacy profile], Litigation Support Director at Poker Players Alliance [advocacy website], argued that the decision bolstered the legitimacy of Internet betting [JURIST comment], yet the gambling landscape remains a patchwork of many distinct standards and statutory definitions.