Tuesday, August 07, 2012

NCAA, Pro Sports Leagues Suing New Jersey Over Sports Betting Law

There are four states where sports gambling is legal: Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana. That seems to be unfair to other states that have later legalized gambling, such as New Jersey. This year, Gov. Chris Christie and the legislature sought to overcome federal law authorizing only Nevada to allow sports betting by enacting a sports betting law for the state.

Now, the NCAA and the major pro sports leagues are suing the state.
The nation's four professional sports leagues and the NCAA filed suit against Gov. Chris Christie and other state officials in federal court in Trenton this morning to block New Jersey from allowing sports betting in Atlantic City casinos and the state's race tracks.

The suit, brought by Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and the National Collegiate Athletic Association cites a 1992 federal law, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, prohibiting all but four states to permit betting on collegiate and professional games. The measure was sponsored by Bill Bradley, a former Democratic senator from New Jersey who also played basketball for the New York Knicks.

The suit asserts that "the outcome of collegiate and athletic contests must be determined, and must be perceived by the public as being determined, solely on the basis of honest athletic competition."

New Jersey was the only state in 1992 to be be given an opportunity by Congress to approve a referendum allowing sports betting, but the matter was never placed on the ballot.

In November, New Jersey voters approved a ballot referendum to amend the state Constitution to allow sports betting , which is currently only permitted by federal law in Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana.
It's really hilarious to read that the leagues and NCAA are concerned about New Jersey's gambling threatening the "character and integrity" of events and threatens the "reputations and goodwill" between fans and teams. After all, that would be an argument applicable to any state that had sports gambling.

This seems to be a curious argument being made by the sports organizations. After all, they haven't been concerned about the gambling in the states where it is legal (and grandfathered into the federal law prohibiting sports gambling elsewhere). If they were that concerned about the vice of sports gambling, then they would have tried to block sports gambling in those states. Well, they have tried, though they haven't been successful.

This has more to do with a poorly conceived federal law that is discriminatory against states that didn't consider sports betting prior to the enactment of the federal law. It protects the interests of the states where sports betting is legal and intrudes into an area where states were previously free to consider their own policy on gambling.

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