In the wake of several major casino closings in Atlantic City, New Jersey leaders, including Governor Chris Christie, are “hoping sports betting can end Atlantic City’s losing streak,” according to a September 9 article in the Washington Post. The article reports that the Governor’s office has filed a motion in U.S. District Court and issued a statewide “directive” that would allow casinos and racetracks to offer sports betting “without fear of criminal or civil liability.”
A statement posted on the official website of Governor Christie’s office said the directive was issued after a ruling in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed that the state is free to remove restrictions against sports betting if it desires to do so. Although Governor Christie consistently has supported the authorization of sports betting, he vetoed a bill to approve the activity because he feared it would violate the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). The Third Circuit decision found that nothing in PASPA would prohibit the state from removing its own prohibition against sports wagering.
A slow economic recovery and increased competition in neighboring states have been blamed for the closing of three Atlantic City casinos and the loss of 5,900 casino jobs so far this year. Gambling revenues in the city have dropped by 45 percent since 2006, the Post reports.