The New Jersey lawmaker who wrote the betting legislation said he plans to introduce a bill that would repeal all laws prohibiting sports betting. Sen. Raymond Lesniak said he hoped the U.S. Justice Department wouldn't challenge it, which he said would be consistent with its stance in other areas.
"Aren't they selling marijuana in Colorado and Washington?" he asked. "Isn't that against federal law?"
Voters in New Jersey overwhelmingly endorsed legal sports betting in a nonbinding referendum in 2011. State lawmakers soon enacted a law to allow for betting at tracks and in casinos. Bets wouldn't have been taken on games involving New Jersey colleges or college games played in the state.
But those actions ran up against the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, enacted by Congress to restrict betting on sports to a few states. Nevada has allowed betting on sports for more than 60 years, and Delaware, Montana and Oregon have at times permitted more limited betting. New Jersey missed a deadline in the law that would have allowed sports betting in Atlantic City.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association, the major professional leagues in baseball, basketball, football and hockey sued to block the New Jersey law from taking effect, saying betting would harm the integrity of their games. The Obama administration also joined in the legal fight, opposing New Jersey.
A trial judge ruled against the state and his ruling was upheld by a divided panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.
The appeals court said it was not judging the wisdom or desirability of allowing sports wagering.
"New Jersey's sports wagering law conflicts with PASPA and, under our Constitution, must yield," the court said.
The dissenting judge said Congress exceeded its authority when it passed the federal sports betting law.
Associated Press writer Wayne Parry in Atlantic City contributed to this story.