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Updated at 5:55 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Aug. 7
The NFL, NHL, NBA, NCAA and Major League Baseball filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday aiming to stop New Jersey from taking sports wagers.
The sports leagues hold that New Jersey's plan violates the Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), a 1992 law that prohibits sports betting in all but four states, with Nevada the only to offer single-game betting. One of the sporting-league arguments against New Jersey's plan: The state could have passed a law allowing sports wagering between Jan. 1, 1993 and Jan. 1, 1994 — thus earning an exception from PASPA — but did not.
"Thus, under the plain terms of PASPA, New Jersey is expressly barred by federal law from sponsoring, operating, advertising, promoting, or licensing sports-based gambling," lawyers for the sports leagues wrote in the suit filed Tuesday.
In January, Gov. Chris Christie signed a law clearing the way for sports betting once federal law allowed it, but in May, Christie changed course, indicating the state would plan to start taking bets regardless of existing federal law. A 60-day public comment period on the sports-betting regulations began July 2.
On Wednesday, Christie expressed confidence the state would turn back the federal challenge.
"You know, I think we’re going to win," he told reporters, according to a transcript from his press office. "Because I don’t believe the federal government has the right to decide that only certain states can have sports gambling. On what basis?"
Christie added that "ultimately, I think this is going to be found to be unconstitutional. We’re going to have a long road ahead of us with the courts, but we’re prepared for the fight."
Christie also said he had "no concerns" that the sports-betting dispute would imperil Super Bowl XLVIII being held in New Jersey in 2014.
"Have I gotten any direct assurances from (NFL) commissioner (Roger) Goodell? No, I haven’t," Christie said. "But I saw him last week or two weeks ago when I was in Idaho. He certainly didn’t raise the issues with me in our conversation about pulling the Super Bowl, so I think we’ll be fine.
"... We’ll prepare for the Super Bowl. We’ll do a great job with the Super Bowl, and we’ll have our separate legal fight over whether or not sports gambling should be legal in more than four states in the United States."
Three years ago, the NFL and other sports leagues sued Delaware in federal court, challenging the state's sports-betting plan. The state lost its bid to offer single-game wagering, but it can offer multi-game "parlay" bets on the basis of running a short-lived parlay game in 1976.