New Jersey is moving ahead with plans to permit betting on sports in the state and one racetrack already said it will start taking bets as early as next weekend.
Despite a federal challenge lodged by major professional sports leagues and the NCAA to halt betting on team sports, on Friday, Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill passed this week in the Legislature that would partially repeal New Jersey's prohibition on sports wagering, reported ESPN.com.
Supporters of the legislation hail it as a potential remedy for the state's struggling racetrack and casino industries, but the effort faces significant opposition from professional sports leagues and the NCAA.
Monmouth Park Racetrack said it plans to begin on Oct. 26. and has already built a sports-wagering facility at the track. Racetrack adviser Dennis Drazin said it has set up an independent entity to regulate the wagering and it will be managed by the British bookmaking company William Hill.
Spokesmen for Major League Baseball and the NBA, NFL and NHL declined to comment.
The state attorney general withdrew its request for a U.S. District Court judge to clarify an injunction preventing sports betting after Christie signed the measure. Christie said he believes the bill adheres to federal law and responds to the issues raised in federal courts.
"As I've said all along, I am a strong proponent of legalized sports wagering in New Jersey," Christie said in a statement. "But given earlier decisions by federal courts, it was critical that we follow a correct and appropriate path to curtail new court challenges and expensive litigation. I believe we have found that path in this bipartisan legislative effort."
While the Christie administration supports sports betting at racetracks and casinos, no casino in the state has announced plans to offer sports betting.
Most casino operators are publicly traded companies with operations in multiple states and countries, and most are concerned that operating in potential defiance of a federal law could cost the company licenses in other jurisdictions.