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National

N.J. Gov. Christie Backs A Long Shot: Sports Betting

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And with Atlantic City on this losing streak, now the state of New Jersey is placing a bet on sports betting. Governor Chris Christie says the state's casinos and racetracks can begin to offer sports wagering. Of course this is an apparent defiance of federal law, so the move is likely to be challenged in court. Here's NPR's Joel Rose.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: New Jersey has been down this road before - the state passed a law that would have legalized sports betting two years ago, but it was struck down in federal court. Now Governor Chris Christie is betting on a long shot. New Jersey is simply dropping the state's prohibition on sports gambling. The Christie administration claims that this should be legal under federal law, as long as the state itself isn't actually regulating sports betting and no one is betting on teams or sporting events in New Jersey.

LLOYD LEVENSON: The governor's basically saying to the casinos and racetracks, go ahead.

ROSE: Lloyd Levenson is a New Jersey attorney who specializes in gambling law. He says the governor's plan might work, but it's not going to happen overnight.

LEVENSON: The casino cannot just tomorrow decide, you know what, come on in and we'll have sports wagering. You need to build up an infrastructure.

ROSE: Levenson says the industry will also be waiting to see if Christie's proposal can survive an all-but-certain legal challenge from the same professional and collegiate sports league that blocked New Jersey's previous attempts to allow sports gambling. Advocates say sports betting could help Atlantic City casinos change their luck. Four casinos are expected to close this year, leaving thousands of workers unemployed. Joel Rose, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.