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N.J. lawmakers look for workarounds after losing on sports betting in federal courts

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on legalizing sports betting was a "long shot."

By Frances Burns
N.J. lawmakers look for workarounds after losing on sports betting in federal courts
Nina Davuluri of New York waves to photographers as she leans on a life boat on the beach early September 16, 2013 after being crowned Miss America 2014. UPI/John Anderson | License Photo

TRENTON, N.J., June 24 (UPI) -- New Jersey lawmakers looked for workarounds after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear their appeal on legalizing sports betting in the state.

State Sen. Ray Lesniak, a veteran Democrat, introduced a bill that would repeal New Jersey's laws on sports betting. His reading of U.S. Justice Dept. documents is that New Jersey can allow sports betting as long as it doesn't license it.

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"I expect that the U.S. Justice Department will refrain from intervening, as they have with Colorado and Washington when those states legalized marijuana," he told the Star-Ledger of Newark. "I plan on placing my first bet at Monmouth Racetrack on Sept. 8 for the Giants to beat the spread against the Lions on 'Monday Night Football.'"

Lesniak and other legislators say that legal sports betting is vital to keeping Atlantic City afloat. The resort, which had the only legal U.S. casinos outside Nevada when the first ones opened in the late 1970s, has been hit hard by competition in recent years.

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Last week, Revel Atlantic City, the newest casino in New Jersey, filed for bankruptcy for the second time since it opened in 2012.

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New Jersey legalized sports betting in 2011. But a year later a group of professional and college athletic associations and the Justice Department sued, arguing that the state was in violation of a 1992 law that bars states from authorizing sports betting except in Nevada, Delaware, Montana, and Oregon, which were grandfathered in.

New Jersey lost at the district court and appellate levels. On Monday, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

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Gov. Chris Christie was philosophical about the loss.

"It's always a long shot to get certiorati from the United State Supreme Court," he said as he prepared for a charity softball game at Yankee Stadium. "That's the way it goes. They said no, so we have to move on."

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