Judge says leagues have standing to continue New Jersey sports bet fight


new-jersey-sports-bet-league-standingOn Friday morning, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was asked to predict whether the professional and college sports leagues suing to block the Garden State’s sports betting legislation would be granted standing to continue the case. The standing issue was argued in front of Judge Michael Shipp on Tuesday, with Shipp promising to issue a written ruling by Friday. NorthJersey.com’s Melissa Hayes quoted Christie saying that while it would be “great” if Shipp ruled in New Jersey’s favor, “I suspect that [the leagues] will be found to have standing to sue.”

Christie’s suspicions were confirmed late Friday when Shipp issued a one-page ruling granting the leagues the right to continue their legal contrarianism. Shipp offered no justifications behind his decision, stating only that the leagues “have demonstrated standing and this case will proceed to the merits.” A date will be set “after Jan. 20, 2013” for oral arguments regarding the constitutional issues surrounding the case, namely, whether the federal PASPA law restricting single-game sports betting to within Nevada’s borders is something that is making the country’s founding fathers turn over in their graves. New Jersey has said it will be in a position to begin issuing sports betting licenses as of Jan. 9, while Shipp has given the federal government until Jan. 20 to decide whether it wishes to wade into the fray.

Meanwhile, NorthJersey.com’s Anthony Campisi revealed that the state’s high-powered hired gun attorney Theodore Olson is charging a flat fee of $45k to argue New Jersey’s case, and that includes all levels of appeal, right on up to the US Supreme Court, if necessary. For someone like Olson, who successfully represented George W. Bush in the 2000 Florida vote recount debacle as well as the group behind the Supreme Court’s Citizens United campaign finance case that enabled the likes of Sheldon Adelson to spend untold millions trying to defeat Obama, $45k is “as close to pro bono as you’re going to get,” according to Rutgers-Newark law school dean John J. Farmer Jr.

Primarily appearing on behalf of conservative causes, Olson has also championed gay rights issues in California. While it’s tempting to believe that Olson is backing New Jersey because he believes in the inalienable right of all Americans to wager on sporting events, Farmer suggests it’s the case’s obvious potential to hit the Supreme Court that’s piqued Olson’s interest. “That’s the kind of litigation that somebody in his position looks for. His practice is built on these kinds of national impact litigation.”

While we wait to see whether the federal government will insert itself into New Jersey’s court fight, the Department of Justice is busy on other fronts. This week, the DoJ shut down an NFL ‘survivor pool’ based out of Missouri, reportedly seizing funds totaling $250k in the process. SportingNews.com’s David Payne Purdum reported that the pool organizer sent members an email saying he’d had “a nice little visit from the IRS tonight… They have shut down the Pool and seized the money… There will be no payout this year and as of now, all money is in the hands of the Federal Government.” Purdum was able to get confirmation from the Eastern District Court of Missouri that there had been a seizure warrant, which cited the 1961 Wire Act that prohibits transmission of sports betting data as justification for the seizure. The rest of the case documents have been sealed pursuant to an order from the federal magistrate overseeing the case.