The NCAA and the four major professional sports leagues went to court Tuesday morning to try to stop New Jersey from allowing sports betting, saying it would violate federal law and would threaten the sanctity of the game.
Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, the National Football league and the NCAA filed a lawsuit in federal court in Trenton.
The leagues say that a 1992 federal law, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, limits betting on collegiate and professional games to four states: Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana. New Jersey was given a chance to become the fifth state, but declined to act during a window it was given in 1993-94.
In January, Gov. Chris Christie signed a law to allow sports betting at New Jersey's 12 casinos and four racetracks. In May, he said he would implement regulations without attempting to overturn the 1992 law. The regulations were published in July and are expected to become effective within the next two months.
Christie and legislative leaders have said they expected litigation challenging their betting plans. A spokesman for Christie had no immediate comment on the lawsuit.
The leagues claim in the lawsuit that sports gambling threatens the ''character and integrity'' of events and threatens the ''reputations and goodwill'' between fans and teams.
''The sponsorship, operation, advertising, promotion, licensure, and authorization of sports gambling in New Jersey,'' the lawsuit states, ''would irreparably harm amateur and professional sports by fostering suspicion that individual plays and final scores of games may have been influenced by factors other than honest athletic competition.''