Jets' hiring of brother of judge in New Jersey sports betting suit won't affect case for now



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NEWARK, New Jersey — The New York Jets have hired the brother of a federal judge who has ruled on New Jersey's efforts to allow sports betting, but that won't affect the case for now.

State Sen. Ray Lesniak and Monmouth Park Racetrack attorney Dennis Drazin, both strong supporters of sports gambling in New Jersey, said Wednesday they won't seek to file a motion to have U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp remove himself from the case after brother Marcel Shipp's hiring.

Marcel Shipp is a former NFL player who was hired by the Jets this week as a running backs coach.

Last fall, Lesniak, a Democrat, publicly called for Michael Shipp to recuse himself from the case due to his brother's connection to the NFL, which included a minority coaching fellowship with the Arizona Cardinals. The NFL, the NHL, the NBA, Major League Baseball and the NCAA sued New Jersey in 2012 to stop the state from allowing sports betting.

Since then, Michael Shipp has ruled against the state several times. The case is on appeal with the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court in Philadelphia and is expected to be argued in March, Lesniak said.

"It would have been better if the judge had recused himself before," Lesniak said Wednesday. "On the temporary restraining order that the NFL requested, his opinion sounded like talking points from the NFL. That's over now, and there's nothing we can do about it. We're taking our chances with the 3rd Circuit."

Lesniak said the issue could be revisited if the appeals court sends the case back to Michael Shipp, as it did once previously, though he said it is unlikely that would happen again. A spokesman for the state attorney general's office didn't return a message seeking comment Wednesday.

Last week, Democrat Frank Pallone Jr. and Republican Frank LoBiondo renewed legislative efforts in Congress to make sports gambling legal.

Pallone's bill would exempt New Jersey from the federal ban on sports betting in 46 states. LoBiondo's bill would re-open a window for any state that wants to legalize sports betting to do it in the next four years.

Supporters of New Jersey's efforts want it to become only the second state in the country, after Nevada, to offer wagering on individual games at betting locations known as sports books. Delaware offers multi-game parlay pools, in which bettors must pick several games correctly to win money.

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