Governor claims states limited resources can be better used elsewhere

New Jersey governor Chris Christie this week damaged political initiatives to reverse a federal ban on sports betting in the state by declaring that he will not sign on for a lawsuit initiated by a state senator against the federal government last year.

New reports that the governors legal representative informed the judge handling the case that: “At this time, given the unprecedented economic crisis and other challenges facing the state, the governor has determined that the states limited resources would be better utilized by focusing on other, more immediate issues facing the citizens of New Jersey.”

Sen. Raymond Lesniak, who filed against the federal government last year, said he was “disappointed” in Christies decision but believes with the support of Senate President Stephen Sweeney he still has “a powerful argument” that the ban unconstitutionally restricts states rights under the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

That amendment gives the states, and the people, “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states.”

“We expect to win,” Lesniak said.

Lesniak and industry representatives argue sports betting could bring the state millions in annual revenue while helping to revitalise Atlantic City, reports. The lawsuit argues the 1992 sports betting ban discriminates against New Jersey and 45 other states where such wagering is illegal. Only Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon met the deadline to sign up for it.

The litigation has some background involving Christies predecessor, former Gov. Jon Corzine, who had sought to become a party to the lawsuit, but lost the gubernatorial election to Christie.

Christie, a Republican, had been granted an extension until this week to make up his mind. The governor has said he generally supports sports betting but did not want to decide on the lawsuit until receiving a report from a special commission analysing the states sports, entertainment and gaming scene. The commissions report is due at the end of the month.

Lesniak, who also advocates regulated and taxed online gambling, said this week that despite the governors decision, the state Senate can also assert the rights of the state, but acknowledged “its not as powerful before the court.”

National sports leagues have vehemently opposed the liberalisation of the New Jersey sports betting scene.