New Jersey, pro sports, NCAA look to appeals court in latest fight to legalize sports gambling

Attorneys representing New Jersey, the four professional sports leagues and the NCAA are heading to a federal appeals court Tuesday in their yearslong battle over legalized sports gambling.

Seeking to tap into a multibillion-dollar sports gambling market, New Jersey is pinning its hopes on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, whose previous ruling handed it a defeat but also provided an opening to pursue further action.

New Jersey has suffered several defeats in court since the leagues sued in 2012 to stop sports gambling, including in the 3rd Circuit in 2013. However, that ruling contained language that the state has argued gives it the legal authority to repeal its laws against sports gambling and allow it at racetracks and casinos.

New Jersey is hoping sports gambling will reap tens of millions of dollars in revenue and help turn around the flagging fortunes of its casino and horse racing industries.

The leagues and NCAA have argued that extending gambling to more states will compromise the integrity of their games and increase the temptation for game-fixing. New Jersey has countered that the leagues are as successful as they've ever been despite gambling being allowed in Nevada and that the leagues already sanction fantasy games that are tantamount to gambling.

In recent months, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred have separately expressed some level of support for taking a new look at legalized sports betting outside Nevada, the only state to allow betting on individual games at betting parlors.

In court papers, though, the leagues have contended that offering sports gambling at casinos and racetracks in New Jersey would violate a 1992 federal law barring state-sanctioned sports gambling outside Nevada and three other states that are allowed to offer limited versions.

So far, Monmouth Park racetrack is the only location in New Jersey to take steps to prepare for legalized gambling.