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What Changed About the Legality of Sports Gambling?


If you’re a fan of sports at all or even have simply been keeping up with the news, you’ve probably heard a fair amount about sports gambling this year, and for a good reason: in May the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a 1992 law which prohibited all but four states from legalizing gambling on sporting events. The four exempted states? Oregon, Delaware, Montana, and Nevada. However, there was also an exemption added for existing licensed casinos here in New Jersey, and the Garden State took center stage as the plaintiff in the suit that ultimately saw this legislation overturned.

Some of the critics of the decision have argued that the decision comes at a time where few states have the infrastructure and resources for legitimate, regulated gambling. That vacuum could fuel the rise of a shady underground industry that would funnel billions of dollars through offshore entities to avoid taxes and other potential difficulties. However, one research firm estimated that 32 states would be able offer above-the-board, legitimate, and legalized gambling within five years.

With the law now deemed unconstitutional, does that mean sports gambling is now free and legal just about anywhere? Well, not exactly. With the law struck down, the only real thing that has changed is that states now have the freedom and the ability to legalize sports betting in any way they would like.

Here in New Jersey, lawmakers began working on legislation in advance of this decision, which changed the laws and allowed both casinos and horse racing facilities to begin accepting sports bets within just a few weeks of the new law passing. In June, Governor Phil Murphy signed that bill into law and Monmouth Park in Oceanport began accepting bets on professional and college sports later that week.

If a state has no laws prohibiting sports betting, expect to see gambling avenues opening up soon. For example, in states like Delaware which had open sports betting before the implementation of PASPA in 1992, there’s a good chance that the market will return to a robust state again quickly.

The other big question will be how states regulate gambling via the internet and on mobile devices. Under current laws in some states, you must be in the same state in order for a bookkeeper to take your bet, but that could change in the future. For now, daily fantasy leagues like DraftKings and FanDuels are legal in almost every state in the country, and have quickly evolved into a billion-dollar business. New Jersey has developed a robust online casino industry, but the laws which regulate it are stringent, and do require that all players be physically located within the state of New Jersey in order to participate.

Illegal Gambling in New Jersey

When New Jersey legalized gambling back in 1976, it became just the second state to do so. Starting two years later, casinos begun to spring up all over the state, primarily in Atlantic City which has now become known as a sort of “Vegas of the eastern seaboard.” As we entered the digital age, the state legislature adapted and implemented new laws to allow these casinos to start operating online gambling rooms as well. Starting in 2013, casinos who had sites approved by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement were allowed to begin business.

However, the laws don’t make the online gambling sphere a free-for-all. In order to gamble online in an Atlantic City casino, you must be a resident of the state of New Jersey. This includes games like Poker, Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, Baccarat, and more. Bingo is also legal, and there are a few different sites which allow legal bingo play to New Jersey residents. Sports betting is also still not yet legal in New Jersey, though this lawsuit

Likewise, gambling of any kind isn’t legal for just anybody. First, you must be over the age of 21 to gamble in any casino, online or physically in person. And while you may be a New Jersey resident, you must be located within New Jersey borders in order to gamble for real money. Because violations can carry such immense penalties for casinos, they can and do take significant steps to verify that players are doing so legally.

If you’re found to be gambling outside of state lines, have lied about your age, or have in any other way violated New Jersey’s gambling laws, you could face serious criminal charges. N.J.S.A. § 5:12-119 defines gambling under the age of 21 as a “disorderly persons” offense, which means you could face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, the penalties go up even further if you are under the age of 18: you’ll face a minimum fine of $500 in addition to jail time and your driver’s license will be suspended for up to six months. Using a false ID in order to gamble under the age of 21 is an even further offense that can add longer jail sentences and greater fines.

If you’ve been accused of illegal gambling and are facing criminal accusations, call a Bergen County criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Joseph R. Donahue, LLC at (201) 574-7919 today!
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