Christie to press gambling fight

Posted: March 09, 2013

Gov. Christie said Thursday that he was not throwing in the towel in his fight to legalize sports gambling in the Garden State despite a recent federal court defeat.

In February, a U.S. district judge in Trenton upheld a 1992 law that bans sports gambling in New Jersey and 45 other states. Only Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Delaware are exempt. The four major pro sports leagues and the NCAA have sued to stop New Jersey's legalization efforts.

"I'm appealing it, so if they [the NCAA] think I've changed my mind, they're wrong. I'll appeal it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if I can, and will," Christie said.

For that to happen the state must first appeal the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia. A defeat there would leave the Supreme Court as the last legal avenue, although two New Jersey congressmen, Republican Frank LoBiondo and Democrat Frank Pallone, have proposed amending the 1992 law to allow New Jersey and other states the chance to approve legal sports betting.

Christie made his remarks a day after the NCAA told the Associated Press it had reversed a ban on New Jersey's hosting NCAA-sanctioned championship events. It put the ban in place last year after Christie vowed to move ahead with plans to license sports betting operators.

The ban cost Trenton the chance to host first- and second-round NCAA women's Division I basketball tournament games this year and may have cost Newark's Prudential Center arena a chance to play host to an NCAA men's basketball regional in 2015. Some New Jersey college teams have had to play individual tournament games away from campus that they normally would have hosted.

Christie said the NCAA has the right as a private organization not to choose venues like the Prudential Center to host tournament games, but he noted that the economic impact of that decision is far less than the impact of keeping sports betting illegal.

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