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Lustigman Quoted on New Jersey’s Unexpected Skill Contest Legislation

June 15, 2014

The Newark Star Ledger published a story about the lifting of a perceived 30-plus year ban on its residents’ eligibility to participate in skill contests. Since the 1982 Boardwalk Regency Corp. vs. Attorney General decision over a backgammon tournament meant to curb gambling, some of the nation’s most prestigious amateur skill contests have excluded New Jersey residents. Brought to the Assembly’s attention by a Bergen County high school student attempting to enter the National Geographic Traveler’s contest and an Atlantic City woman over the American Pie Council contest, Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill in January that was meant to clarify everything. The matter remains unclear, however, because the new law says that photography and baking contests that require an entry fee are not considered games of chance and do not violate state gambling laws. It also allows "any similar contest that is approved as a ‘contest of skill’ by the attorney general." Olshan Partner Andrew Lustigman points out that this wording leaves room for confusion over the attorney general’s role in cases that don’t involve photography or baking. "People saw New Jersey before as a generally accepted state for a skills contest, but by throwing in ‘baking, photography are okay, everything else needs to be approved by the attorney general,’ there’s uncertainty of what that means and what other contests are approved by the attorney general," he said.

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