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Come Sunday, Will Sports Betting Be Allowed In New Jersey?

The NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NCAA are all trying to put a stop to New Jersey's law allowing gambling on individual sports games.

By Matt Moreno | October 21, 2014

Atlantic City is usually New Jersey's most recognizable gambling spot. But right now, Oceanport, New Jersey is getting all the attention. 

Friday, New Jersey governor Chris Christie signed a bill allowing legal sports betting in the area at a new horse track, Monmouth Park. 

The track says it will begin taking bets this Sunday — giving enough time for people to place bets on individual NFL games for the following week. But now the NFL, along with the MLB, NBA, NHL and NCAA, are trying to stop that. 

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As quoted by The New York Times, the leagues are arguing that the law is aiming to do "what it unsuccessfully attempted to do nearly three years ago: sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize gambling on amateur and professional sports at state-licensed casinos and horse racetracks. Because this effort is no more lawful than New Jersey’s past ones, it, too, should be enjoined."

The passing of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 1992 banned sports betting in all states, except for four. Though, that doesn't mean betting, regardless of legality, has slowed since then. 

RICK LEVENTHAL VIA FOX NEWS: "There's big money involved. Nevada took in $3.6 billion sports bets last year alone, but it's estimated to be a $500 billion a year industry with most of the bets being placed illegally — off-shore or with bookies."

That's part of the reason why Gov. Christie supported the bill and sports betting in the state for since for some time. Here's what he had to say about it in 2011: 

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE VIA YOUTUBE / STATE HOUSE STEPS: "Let's get that economy out from underground. Let's get it above ground. Let's have the people who want to gamble on sports be able to do so legally. Let's have the people who benefit from it be the people of the state of New Jersey, not criminal organizations." 

In that same year, he signed a bill allowing sports betting in the state. But back then, just like now, sports organizations sued. A federal judge sided with the sports leagues and an appellate court upheld that ruling after the state appealed.

Currently, sports betting is only legal in four states — Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon. Though betting on unlimited individual sporting games is only allowed in Nevada. 

But, as writes, there's a way for New Jersey to circumvent the ban: "The federal ban prohibits only states from sanctioning betting. Thus, under the law, betting in New Jersey would not be regulated or licensed by the state, but private companies would be allowed to run it."

New Jersey Sen. Ray Lesniak, described by ESPN as "the state's most outspoken proponent of legalized sports betting," is confident the law will go through as planned. 

WTXF: "Lesniak is also a lawyer and says the leagues really cannot make a winning legal arguemnt here in court that betting will do irreparable harm to their games."

Experts say legalizing sports gambling in New Jersey could bring the state about $10 billion in revenue. A decision from the courts on whether to halt this legislation could come as soon as Friday. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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