Justia U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Gaming Law

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The Debtors own the Atlantic City Trump Taj Mahal casino. The union represents 1,136 employees. The 2011 collective bargaining agreement was to remain in effect through September 14, 2014 and continue in full force and effect from year to year thereafter, unless either party served 60 days written notice of its intention to terminate, modify, or amend. In March 2014, the Debtors gave notice of their “intention to terminate, modify or amend” and sought to begin negotiations. The Union initially declined. On August 20 the parties met. The Debtors emphasized their critical financial situation. No agreement was reached. The Debtors filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. On September 11, the Debtors asked the Union to extend the term of the CBA. The Union refused. The CBA expired. On September 17, the Debtors sent the Union a proposal with supporting documentation. After meetings, the Debtors successfully moved, under section 1113, to reject the CBA and implement the terms of the Debtors’ last proposal, asserting that rejection of the CBA was necessary to the reorganization.While 11 U.S.C. 1103 allows a debtor to terminate a CBA under certain circumstances, the National Labor Relations Act prohibits an employer from unilaterally changing CBA terms even after its expiration; key terms of an expired CBA continue to govern until the parties reach a new agreement or bargain to impasse. The Third Circuit affirmed, finding section 1113 does not distinguish between the terms of an unexpired CBA and terms that continue to govern after the CBA expires. View "In re: Trump Entm't Resorts" on Justia Law

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Revel opened an Atlantic City resort-casino, costing $2.4 billion. Revel entered into a 10-year lease with IDEA to run two nightclubs and a beach club. IDEA contributed $16 million of the projected cost of construction in addition to monthly rental payments. The Casino did not turn a profit. Revel filed a “Chapter 22” bankruptcy, seeking permission to sell its assets free of all liens and interests (including leases). The Bankruptcy Court approved and set an auction date. IDEA, concerned that the proposed sale would eliminate the value of its lease notwithstanding its $16 million investment, filed objections. No qualified buyer appeared. The court postponed the auction. A month later, Revel closed the Casino’s doors and barred tenants, IDEA gave notice that it intended to continue operating its beach club and nightclub and expected Revel to honor its obligations to provide uninterrupted utility service. In the meantime Polo agreed to buy the Casino for $90 million. Days before the sale hearing, Revel replied to IDEA’s objections. IDEA appealed an unfavorable order and sought a stay pending appeal, noting that, if the decision were not stayed, its appeal would be moot under 11 U.S.C. 363(m) once the sale closed. The district court denied the motion. The Third Circuit reversed, staying that part of the order that allowed Revel to sell the Casino free of IDEA’s lease. View "In re: Revel AC Inc" on Justia Law

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The 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), 28 U.S.C. 3701, provides: It shall be unlawful for a governmental entity to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize or for a person to sponsor, operate, advertise, or promote, pursuant to the law or compact of a governmental entity, a lottery, sweepstakes, or other betting, gambling, or wagering scheme based competitive games in which amateur or professional athletes participate, or are intended to participate, or on one or more performances of such athletes in such games. PASPA exempts state-sponsored sports wagering in Nevada and sports lotteries in Oregon and Delaware, and had an exception for New Jersey if New Jersey were to enact a sports gambling scheme within one year of PASPA’s enactment. New Jersey did not do so. After voters approved a sports-wagering constitutional amendment, New Jersey enacted the Sports Wagering Act in 2012, providing for sports wagering at casinos and racetracks, under a comprehensive regulatory scheme. Sports leagues sued to enjoin the 2012 Law.The district court held that PASPA was constitutional and enjoined implementation of the 2012 Law. The Third Circuit affirmed. PASPA, by its terms, prohibits states from authorizing by law sports gambling, and the 2014 Law does exactly that. View "Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n v. Governor of N.J." on Justia Law

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New Jersey enacted the 2002 Off-Track and Account Wagering Act, N.J. Stat. 5:5-127, providing for establishment of 15 off-track wagering (OTW) facilities. The Act authorized a license for the N.J. Sports and Exposition Authority, conditioned upon NJSEA entering into a participation agreement with other entities that held horse racing permits in 2000 (ACRA and Freehold). NJSEA, ACRA, and Freehold entered into an agreement, allocating permit rights. By 2011, only four facilities had opened. NJSEA had leased control of its tracks to the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NJTHA) and another. The 2011 Forfeiture Amendment provided that permit holders would forfeit rights to any OTW not licensed by 2012, unless they demonstrated “making progress” toward establishing an OTW; forfeited rights would be available to other “horsemen’s organizations” without compensation to the permit holder. NJTHA qualified for forfeited rights. The 2012 Deposit Amendment extended the forfeiture date and allowed a permit holder to make a $1 million deposit for each OTW facility not licensed by December 31, 2011, retaining the “making progress” exception. The Pilot Program Act allowed installation of electronic wagering terminals in some bars and restaurants, by lessees or purchasers of NJSEA-owned racetracks, who could exchange unused OTW licenses to install electronic terminals. NJTHA secured such a license. ACRA and Freehold submitted challenged the constitutionality of the amendments under the Contracts, Takings, Due Process, and Equal Protection Clauses. The Commission determined that both ACRA and Freehold had made progress toward establishing their unlicensed OTW facilities and absolved them of the obligation to submit deposits. The district court dismissed a suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and 1988 on Younger abstention grounds. Subsequently, the Supreme Court decided Sprint Communications v. Jacobs, (2013), clarifying the Younger abstention doctrine. The Third Circuit reversed, finding that the action does not fit within the framework for abstention. View "Acra Turf Club, LLC v. Zanzuccki" on Justia Law

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Seeking to address illegal sports wagering and to improve its economy, New Jersey sought to license gambling on rofessional and amateur sporting events. Sports leagues sought to block those efforts, claiming, with the United States intervening, that the proposed law violates the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), 28 U.S.C. 3701, which prohibits most states from licensing sports gambling. New Jersey argued that the leagues lacked standing because they suffer no injury from legalization of wagering on their games and that PASPA was beyond Congress’ Commerce Clause powers. The state claimed that PASPA violates principles under the system of dual state and federal sovereignty: the “anti-commandeering” doctrine, on the ground that PASPA impermissibly prohibits states from enacting legislation to license sports gambling; and the “equal sovereignty” principle, in that PASPA permits Nevada to license sports gambling while banning other states from doing so. The district court enjoined New Jersey from licensing sports betting. The Third Circuit affirmed, holding that the leagues have Article III standing to enforce PASPA and that PASPA is constitutional. The court noted that accepting New Jersey’s arguments would require extraordinary steps, including invalidating a law under the anti-commandeering principle (the Supreme Court has only twice done so) and expanding that principle to suspend commonplace operations of the Supremacy Clause over state activity contrary to federal laws. View "Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n v. Governor of NJ" on Justia Law