NJ Judge Rules In Favor of NFL Hypocrisy

By Larry Josephson, a freelance writer who lives in Norton, Mass. He can be reached at newenglandhoops@yahoo.com.

Gamblers can bet on the Detroit Lions this Sunday in London, but they better not dare do so in New Jersey.

Apparently two plus two does indeed equal three.

At least in New Jersey Federal Court, where U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp granted a temporary restraining order on Friday preventing race tracks and casinos from accepting wagers on professional and college games at the request of the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, and NCAA. (Notably, Judge Shipp is the brother of former college/NFL player Marcel Shipp. Marcel Shipp is now an assistant coach at the University of Massachusetts.)

The ruling was yet another punch in the gut for backers of legal sports wagering, and narrows the margin for error as the state moves forward with its efforts to battle federal law preventing sports betting.

Dennis Drazin, a legal adviser for Monmouth Park, which had hoped to take bets as early at this Sunday, vowed to fight on despite the injunction: “We have to step back and evaluate what we’ll do next, but certainly we will not be taking bets this weekend.”

Awkward metaphor, but we get the point. More on that in a bit, but first a few thoughts on Judge Shipp’s faulty reasoning.

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Gov. Christie Escalates Battle To Legalize NJ Sports Betting

By Larry Josephson, a freelance writer who lives in Norton, Mass. He can be reached at newenglandhoops@yahoo.com.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wasted no time late last week in signing a bill that would legalize sport betting in New Jersey, in effect nullifying in the Garden State the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which prevents unfettered wagering on sports events in all states except Nevada.

Gov. Christie’s signature on the new law was immediately met with a demand from the four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA that the federal court issue an injunction preventing New Jersey from implementing sports betting. New Jersey wants to start accepting wagers this weekend at Monmouth Park. However, the leagues
filed a motion for a temporary restraining order Tuesday in an effort to halt New Jersey’s plans.

The state must file its response to the leagues’ restraining order request Wednesday. The leagues will file another reply Thursday, before U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp reviews the filings and decides if oral arguments are required. Judge Shipp will decide if the leagues will be irreparably harmed by betting at Monmouth Park before granting the restraining order.

So what does it all mean?

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Podcast Spotlight: The Legal Blitz on The Illegal Formation

A recent lawsuit claims playing the women's World Cup on turf equates to gender discrimination. (Reuters)

We love tooting horns here at The Legal Blitz — especially our own.

So for your listening pleasure, we are thrilled to present the soulful sounds of Co-Founder Steve Silver on the Illegal Formation podcast, which you can follow @IformationCast.

Steve joined Chris Metz (@CTMetz) and John Svitek (@RidleyDragon) to discuss Jameis Winston’s twitter happy lawyer, the blurry line for agents and lawyers with respect to the NCAA, the FIFA women’s turf discrimination suit, and a multitude of NFL legal issues. Oh yeah, and we picked this week’s NFL games. Take notes before you head to the bookie.

Enjoy: The Illegal Formation Podcast.

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Former NFL Running Back Sued For Gambling Debt

Former NFL running back Clinton Portis is facing a lawsuit over past due casino markers in Las Vegas.

It is no secret that two of my favorite things are football and gambling. Thankfully, former NFL running back Clinton Portis’s recent legal woes provides a perfect opportunity to write about both.

Apparently, the two-time Pro Bowler and 2002 NFL Rookie of the Year had to go to the well a few too many times at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas. The MGM recently sued Portis in Clark County, Nevada for two unpaid markers or short-term, zero to low interest loans, totaling $10,000. The casino is seeking the $10,000 plus $1,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees.

Although $10,000 is a relatively low amount for a Vegas casino marker, if there is one lesson I learned after spending a few years living in Las Vegas it is that Vegas will always get its money back — always.

According to the Courthouse News Service, MGM claims Portis received two “negotiable credit instruments known as markers,” worth more than $10,000, on Jan. 31, 2011. The casino says the markers “were presented through normal banking channels for payment” on Portis’ bank account, but they were “returned dishonored and unpaid.” MGM Grand allegedly sent a written demand by certified mail on March 26, 2011 to collect on its debt, but Portis has refused to pay.

Notably, in Nevada, failure to repay casino markers can lead to both civil and criminal penalties.

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Criminal Defense Lawyer Highlights Legal Implications Surrounding Ray Rice Saga

By Nicholas Galea, a criminal defense attorney in Rockford, Illinois and a 2013 graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law. You can follow him on Twitter at @invertedWAR.

Ray Rice and wife Janay Palmer (left) now find themselves at the center of the nation's attention due to Rice punching out Palmer on video in an Atlantic City casino.

When TMZ released the video of Ray Rice battering Janay Palmer in an elevator, it raised more questions than it answered. It has also placed renewed scrutiny on all parties: Rice, Harbaugh, Goodell, and even NJ prosecutors.

Questions abound. Why the diversionary program? Why two games? Why the different punishment now? Each facet of the issue touches on a few legal concepts that can be rather confusing, even for seasoned attorneys. So now I’ll try to put my criminal law knowledge to good work and attempt to answer some of the more common questions I’ve seen asked.

What’s with the pre-trial diversion program? How could you not prosecute Ray Rice?

The idea that Rice was not prosecuted is 100% false. His placement in a diversion program involves a plea of guilt, the attachment of due process, and all of the usual processes of a prosecution. Guilty pleas in exchange for these opportunities are quite common, especially as criminal justice reformers have embraced a softer approach to sentencing in order to disrupt defendants’ lives less and save money on incarceration.

Although I am not too familiar with New Jersey’s programs, in Illinois it is common for 1st-time misdemeanor offenders to receive court supervision. This gives the offender a year or two to pay a fine, complete public service work, or comply with any other terms deemed fit. With compliance, the case is considered dismissed, and no conviction is entered. This is advantageous for many reasons. However, the courts always have record of prior court supervision terms. It should be seen less as a gift, but more of a firm message sent by the court that we will give you one opportunity to prove you are better than your criminal action.

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Steelers Running Back Teaches Us All A Valuable Lesson in DUI Law

Le'Veon Bell is starting week 1, but he faces a marijuana-related DUI charge stemming from a preseason arrest.

Today the Pittsburgh Steelers hope to ride running back Le’Veon Bell to victory over the Cleveland Browns despite the fact that Bell and fellow RB LeGarrette Blount were riding dirty a few hours before a flight to Philly for a preseason game last month.

Bell and Blount were nabbed for marijuana possession (about 20 grams worth) and Bell, who was driving, picked up a DUI. Funny thing is, he had no idea DUIs applied to drugs. Frankly, who could blame him? He was smoking marijuana hours before a team flight and he is still starting Sunday. So much for accountability in Pittsburgh.

Ignoring the comical lack of punishment, Bell’s mistaken belief that DUIs only apply to driving while drunk provides a good opportunity to review DUI law in the Keystone State.

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Bengals Cheerleader’s Libel Suit Leads To 6th Circuit Victory For Internet Free Speech

Former Bengals cheerleader Sarah Jones learned a difficult legal lesson and lost nearly $400,000 thanks to a recent 6th Circuit Ruling.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) might be one of the most important and powerful pieces of American law.

This Section of the CDA makes the Internet the Internet. Without it, YouTube, Reddit, Craigslist, and even this blog might not exist.

Section 230 of the CDA immunizes website creates or “providers of interactive computer services” against liability arising from content created by third parties. Such immunity allows users to post content that may or may not be defamatory. Although this is largely the basis for “free speech” on the Internet, it also allows shady rumor sites like TheDirty.com to exist.

Unfortunately for one former Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader, Sarah Jones, upholding the sanctity of Section 230 cost her more than $300,000 in a case that appeared poised to crack the CDA’s broad Internet immunity provision.

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Republican Politicians Seeking Federal Ban Of Online Gambling Except Fantasy Sports

Admittedly, this blog is becoming a little gambling heavy. But next to death and taxes, the only sure thing in a sports fan’s life is gambling, which is why a bill recently proposed by two Republicans Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to kill online gambling should be on every sports fan’s radar.

The bill, known as the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, might actually bolster the lucrative fantasy sports industry while destroying online gambling.

As Julian Hattem reported for The Hill, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, would reverse a 2011 Justice Department decision that opened the doors for states to permit online gambling in addition to horse racing, fantasy sports and other games, which were already permitted under the law. Eric Holder’s decision was a momentous shift in the government’s interpretation of the Wire Act and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA).

The latest proposed bill, however, would re-outlaw poker, blackjack and other online casino games, but not fantasy sports.

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New Jersey Set to Double Down On Sports Betting After Supreme Court Ruling

New Jersey plans to take on the federal government to allow sports books in the Garden State.

On Tuesday, the United States Supreme Court dashed the dreams of sports bettors in the Northeast with two words – certiorari denied.

Despite the major players involved and billions of dollars at stake in New Jersey’s pursuit to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), the Supreme Court ultimately refused to hear the case. Granted, the Supreme Court hears only about one percent of cases appealed to it. But come on, we got parlays to hit.

By denying certiorari, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals’ 2-1 decision to uphold PASPA will stand. This means no sports betting for any states other than Nevada and to some extent, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana.

However, federal law and Supreme Court be damned, the Garden State is pushing forward with its desire to legalize sports betting — and it plans to do so by stealing the marijuana legalization playbook.

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Gameday Cocktails Lead to Hangover Lawsuits

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