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Sports-Betting Law Prompts NCAA to Move Championships Out of N.J.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association is planning to move six championships out of New Jersey, all scheduled for spring 2013, because of the state's plan to defy federal law and allow organized sports betting, the organization announced Monday.

NCAA policy prohibits championships being held in a state in which single-game betting has been legalized, in an effort to protect the integrity of all match-ups.

The six championships being relocated are: the East regionals for the Division III wrestling championship (scheduled for Ewing on March 2), diving regionals for the Division I men's and women's swimming and diving championships (scheduled for Piscataway from March 14-17), the Trenton regional of the Division I women's basketball championship (scheduled for Trenton from March 30-April 2), the Division III men's volleyball championship (scheduled for Hoboken from April 26-28), and the Division II and III women's lacrosse championships (scheduled for Montclair from May 18-19). The NCAA has not yet said where it will be moving those tournaments.

"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. "We will work hard in the days ahead to find new suitable host locations which will allow the student-athletes to have the best possible competitive experience."

Earlier this year, N.J. Gov. Chris Christie announced that the state would ignore a federal law called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which restricts sports betting to four states that opted in by a 1991 deadline (Delaware, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon). The N.J. legislature approved sports-betting regulations, which Christie later signed into law, that allow Atlantic City casinos and the state's four horse tracks to accept sports wagers.

Christie did say that he expected legal action to be taken in an effort to prevent N.J. from implementing sports betting, but added, "If someone wants to stop us, then let them try to stop us," according to ESPN.com.

Lo and behold, the NCAA joined together with the four major professional sports leagues to file a lawsuit against the state in August over the pending sports-betting regulations, saying they were in violation of the PASPA, according to the North Jersey Record. In reply, Christie said that the PASPA was unconstitutional. That lawsuit is pending.

A spokesman for Christie told the Associated Press this week that the NCAA was "ludicrous and hypocritical" for relocating the six championships due to the sports-betting law.

"The NCAA wants to penalize New Jersey for legalizing what occurs illegally every day in every state, and often with the participation of organized crime," Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said to the AP. "But the NCAA looks the other way for that?"

The state's Division of Gaming Enforcement published the final sports-wagering regulations on Monday in the New Jersey Register, with licenses slated to start being issued in January.

So, note to any other states seeking to defy the PASPA and allow sports betting: Don't get too attached to any NCAA championships your state is hosting. Based on what we're seeing in N.J., your state won't be hosting them for much longer.

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