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New Jersey takes fight to bet on sports to appeals court

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New Jersey is hoping to grab some gaming business from Las Vegas and has taken a court case to win the legal right to run sports betting operations in the state to the appeals level.

Currently, betting on sports — including office pools at work — is only legal in Las Vegas. But New Jersey wants a piece of the action. The state estimated that of the $500 billion that's estimated to be waged around the nation on sports competitions each year, only about 1 percent is legal, NBC reported.

New Jersey voters decided in 2011 that they should have a right to go after some of that tax revenue, and they gave the go-ahead to a measure that would allow sports betting at the state's horse tracks and at its Atlantic City casinos. But a court halted that measure from taking effect, saying Congress can legally regulate interstate commerce, NBC said.

"Every town in this state has people betting on football, baseball, basketball, hockey, on all the major sports, except now it's being done by criminals," Gov. Chris Christie said back in March. "What we'd like to do is to bring it out in the open and have the citizens of the state benefit from it."

The four major professional sports oppose the widespread legalization of betting, saying such a move would compromise the integrity of the games and raise suspicions about game-fixing, NBC reported.

But New Jersey isn't buying those claims and has taken its case to appeals court. Sports officials are watching the case closely as it winds through appeals, saying the end result could have dramatic effects on the industry and fate of other states to enact gambling laws.

Mr. Christie's view: If voters want sports' betting in their states, then voters should be allowed to gamble on sports in their states. And he's vowed to take the case up the chain to the Supreme Court, if the state loses its appeal.

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