Legalizing Sports Gambling

18 04 2010

Are sports sans and sports leagues going to accept open gambling? (

In a BusinessWeek Article by Wayne Parry it is being reported that sports gambling may not be illegal much longer in NJ.  Atlantic City, NJ is heating up and the debate on allowing legal sports gambling is now being pushed by state legislatures.  A public vote in November, 2010 could see sports gambling as a legal industry in NJ as well as online.  Not everyone is so happy about this possible change, including the NFL.

An NFL spokesperson (Timothy McDonough) believes sports betting could discredit the leagues integrity.  He began saying, “mistakes are made in course of the game, either by the ref or by players”.   He went on to say, “but when mistakes are made, to a less rational person who is placing a bet, a mistake becomes a fix”.

These comments made by Mr. McDonough received immediate criticism.  One person taking part in the backlash is a former Atlantic City Mayor and current state Sen. James Whelan.  “The league has a contractual relationship with broadcast networks, and they go on (the air) and talk about the line, will the Eagles cover the spread against the Giants,” Whelan said. “There’s a level of hypocrisy that the NFL and other professional leagues bring.”

Joseph Brennan, CEO of the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association, an Internet gambling association, also accused the NFL of hypocrisy in opposing legalized betting.  Brennan goes on to say that lines are openly discussed and sports gambling itself is “everywhere, its in full view”.

Before such betting can legally happen, a federal ban on sport betting for all but four states would have to be overturned or repealed. New Jersey is suing the federal government to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. The 1992 law restricts sports betting to the four states that met a deadline to sign up for it: Nevada, where Las Vegas sports books determine the odds for sporting events across the country; Delaware; Montana; and Oregon.

The law carved out a special exemption for New Jersey, giving it a chance to decide if it wanted legal sports betting. The state failed to enact a law that would have done so, and the exemption window closed.

The lawsuit argues that the U.S. law is unconstitutional because it treats four states differently than the 46 others.

A consultant hired by Brennan’s Internet betting association estimated that sports betting could become a $10 billion-a-year industry in New Jersey by 2011 if it were permitted in casinos, at racetracks, online and by telephone. That could generate nearly $100 million a year in tax revenues for the state, he said.

The bill authorizing a November referendum on sports betting has been introduced and has cleared a Senate committee. It is awaiting further action in both chambers of the legislature. It would prohibit bets on college games held in New Jersey, or games anywhere in the country in which a New Jersey team is involved.

So, is legalizing sports betting really that bad for sports leagues like the NFL, MLB or NBA?  All of these leagues have had their own internal integrity issues with refs being involved with gambling, PEDs, players involved in gambling, point shaving, etc.  Would adding legal gambling in sports really intensify or entice cheating in professional sports?