A three-member federal Court of Appeals has upheld an earlier ruling saying that the Garden State's sports betting law stands in violation of federal statute.

Flickr User Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar

That's the bad news for supporters of sports wagering at casinos and racetracks, but there's also a silver lining. One of the three judges sided with New Jersey and that's never happened before.

"This is the first time a judge has ruled anywhere that this ban on sports betting is unconstitutional," says State Sen. Ray Lesniak, the leading advocate of legalizing sports wagering in the Garden State. "So that gives us a breath of hope. I can't say one out of three ain't bad."

Because of the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), sports betting is illegal in New Jersey. Lesniak, Gov. Chris Christie and other Garden State officials firmly believe that the legalization os sports wagering would be a major boon for casinos and racetracks which would also mean more tax revenue for the chronically cash-strapped state.

"We will continue to fight this injustice by either appealing to the US Supreme Court or to the entire Court of Appeals," Lesniak vows.

"Las Vegas is jammed for Super Bowl week and for the NCAA's Final Four weekend while Atlanta City is a ghost town. That's just wrong. The only other beneficiaries of the court's ruling today are sports betting rings run by organized crime and the off-shore Internet sites for sports betting."

Last year, after Christie signed a bill to allow sports betting, Major League Baseball, the NBA, the NHL, the NFL and the NCAA filed suit against the state.

"We are cognizant that certain questions related to this case -- whether gambling on sporting events is harmful to the games' integrity and whether states should be permitted to license and profit from the activity -- engender strong views," the judges wrote in yesterday's ruling.

"But we are not asked to judge the wisdom of PASPA or of New Jersey's law, or of the desirability of the activities they seek to regulate. New Jersey's sports wagering law conflicts with PASPA and, under our Constitution, must yield."