By KENNY WALTER
OCEANPORT — The state is hoping to draw up a miracle play in its multi-year pursuit of legalized sports betting.
In what may be their last legal chance to do so, the state had filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case as the state continues to seek to overturn a federal ban on sports wagering, which could pave the way for sports betting to take place at Monmouth Park.
“They filed a brief to try to get in front of the Supreme Court, and I guess now the Supreme Court has to decide whether or not they take the case,” Oceanport Councilman Joseph Irace said. “This is the last of the state of New Jersey’s efforts.”
In August, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 10-2 against the state in an “en banc” hearing. The state was seeking to overturn a 2015 decision in which two of three Third Circuit Court of Appeals judges ruled that New Jersey’s 2014 law deregulating sports wagering violates federal law.
The case pits the defendants — who include the New Jersey Racing Commission, the thoroughbred horsemen and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority — against the four major professional sports leagues, which are Major League Baseball, National Football League, National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
With the Aug. 9 ruling, the state is left with two options — appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court or have the Legislature pass a full repeal of the sports-betting prohibition, both of which he expects to move forward.
While he said the Supreme Court may be a long shot, Irace said he expects Congress to act on sports betting in the next few years.
“I think sports wagering will get legalized across the country — I just think Congress has to do it at some point,” he said.
“Betting is going on so it might as well be regulated and taxed just like everything else. I do think at some point everybody opens their eyes.”
The federal government banned sports betting in 1992 with the passage of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), and states were given a window of one year to legalize it. Only Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon chose to do so.
Of the four states currently exempt, only Nevada has large-scale sports betting, while the other three states currently have limited wagering.