The Third Circuit Court of Appeals rekindled New Jersey’s hopes of offering sports betting at racetracks and casinos in the state by granting the state’s petition to rehear en banc whether it will be permitted to bypass the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA). The issue is still very confusing and most people don’t know exactly what it entails. However, the following points should be able to clear some of the confusion.

Violated PASPA

New Jersey will still not be permitted to offer sports betting. The court had originally found that New Jersey had violated PASPA thanks to its repeal statute. Only if the full Third Circuit makes a decision to reverse the district court ruling, can sports betting be allowed.

Six to 12 Months More

A final appellate decision will not happen for the next six months and might even take a year. The Third Circuit generally orders an oral argument from both parties and not a written briefing in en banc hearings. The court’s oral argument calendar is very restricted and panel members have conflicting schedules that have to be co-ordinated. Since there will most likely be dissenting opinions in this case, the decision will be delayed further.

En Banc Panel

The en banc panel ideally consists of the active judges of the court, of whom there are 12. However, there are 11 senior judges in the court and the panel might even include some of them. Factors such as retirements, recusals and special appointments will be taken into account when selecting a judge to sit on the panel.

A Minimum of Six Judges

New Jersey has, no doubt, scored a major procedural victory by getting the court to order an en banc rehearing. However, the state requires six judges to vote in its favour and this will be an uphill task. It is important to keep in mind that judges who did not vote in favour of the en banc review are likely to vote against the position taken by New Jersey. This is going to be a very closely divided final decision indeed. This shouldn’t be very surprising since this is a very important legal issue that has very serious ramifications. Besides, both sides are sure to have meritorious arguments

Assumptions Won’t Help

New Jersey can’t afford to assume that it will win this law suit. As a matter of fact, it is on a very shaky ground here. The state can count on two definite votes, whereas the sports leagues arrayed against it have three confirmed votes. At the same time, the state’s position isn’t entirely untenable. Since the state requires at least four more votes in order to prevail in the case, it is going to be a very close call indeed!

New Jersey has a tough fight ahead and there will be immense disappointment if it loses this appeal. There are growing calls to make sports betting legal in the United States, like it is in Europe, the United Kingdom and Australia. Many of the state’s lawmakers have campaigned to bring about this change because of the earnings the state stands to receive by taxing gambling revenues.

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