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N.J. Sports-Betting Lawsuit Allowed to Proceed, Judge Rules

The National Collegiate Athletic Association and the four major professional sports leagues earned a victory over the state of New Jersey when a judge ruled that the leagues' lawsuit over sports-betting legalization can move forward.

U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp said in his ruling Friday that the NCAA and the major sports leagues could be negatively affected by the state's new sports-betting regulations, according to the Associated Press, and thus allowed the lawsuit to proceed.

In May, Gov. Chris Christie announced that New Jersey passed regulations that would ignore a federal law called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which restricts sports gambling to four states that opted-in by a 1991 deadline (Delaware, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon). Under the new state law, Atlantic City casinos and the state's four horse tracks would be allowed to apply for a "Sports Pool License" in January that would allow sports betting on their grounds.

Back when the law was passed, Christie expected legal action to be taken to prevent the state from moving forward. He remained defiant, however, saying, "If someone wants to stop us, then let them try to stop us," according to ESPN.com.

The NCAA and the four major professional sports leagues didn't take so kindly to Christie's invitation, and filed a lawsuit in August over the sports-betting regulations. The NCAA also announced plans in October to move six previously scheduled championships out of the state in 2013 in response to the passage of the new regulations. In an effort to protect the integrity of all games, NCAA policy prohibits championships from being held in a state where single-game betting is legal.

"Maintaining the integrity of sports and protecting student-athlete well-being are at the bedrock of the NCAA's mission and are reflected in our policies prohibiting the hosting of our championships in states that provide for single-game sports wagering," said Mark Lewis, NCAA executive vice president of championships and alliances, in a statement.

While the original plan was for N.J. to start issuing sports-betting licenses after Jan. 9, those plans appear to have been at least temporarily delayed. The state agreed to grant 30 days notice to the sports leagues before issuing any licenses but hadn't done so by Dec. 18, the state attorney general's office told the AP.

High School Impact?

The impact of the state's new sports-betting regulations could stretch beyond the collegiate and professional ranks and reach high school student-athletes, says an article from The Press of Atlantic City.

The paper cites data from the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, which found that male high school athletes largely drove the poker craze among U.S. adolescents in the mid-2000s. According to the National Annenberg Surveys of Youth, more than 19 percent of male high school athletes reported gambling on card games at least once a week in 2005, compared with fewer than 4 percent of males who didn't regularly participate in athletics.

"The findings suggest that high-status male youth, a group that includes athletes, were at the center of the poker craze that occurred during the last decade," the center concluded.

High school student-athletes were also found to be more likely to indulge in sports betting, which includes things such as fantasy sports or March Madness bracket competitions.

A high school freshman at Ocean City (N.J.) High School suggested to The Press that some upperclassmen could participate in sports betting if the state's new regulations are allowed to stand.

"I don't know if any of the freshmen or sophomores would, but I think the upperclassmen might," he said to the paper. "I won't. I don't bet."

Jeff Beck, the assistant director of clinical services with the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, told the paper that legalizing sports gambling would encourage more people to gamble because legalization "adds a legitimacy to it."

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