New Jersey Wants to Gamble, Leagues Opposed

Atlantic City, NJ is one of the casino resort cities in the world, with twelve casino hotels.

Atlantic City, NJ is one of the casino resort cities in the world, with twelve casino hotels.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is in deep water again. But this time, is has nothing to do with politics or the disaster recovery at the Jersey Shore. Christie is in a legal battle with the four major American sports leagues and the NCAA over a proposed bill to allow New Jersey to authorize sports betting. New Jersey does have some limited sports betting, permitted at state racetracks and in Atlantic City casinos. The new legislation will permit individuals to purchase betting licenses to wager on sports games.

Christie has drawn heat for ignoring the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a federal law that prevents most states from authorizing sports gambling. Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana were exempted from the law in the 1990s because of existing gambling laws. League commissioners Roger Goodell, Gary Bettman, Bud Selig, and David Stern have all publicly scolded Christie for compromising the integrity of American sports, with Stern saying that “New Jersey has no idea what it’s doing and doesn’t care”.

The four leagues (NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB) and the NCAA have filed a joint lawsuit against the State of New Jersey, claiming that Chris Christie blatantly ignored federal law in an attempt to improve his own state’s financial strength. New Jersey faces tough economic conditions, with a budget deficit of more than $11 billion, and millions of dollars in damages from Hurricane Sandy in  October. Christie believes that promoting sports gambling would help the Garden State recover from these deficits.

This lawsuit is not only a financial matter, but an ethical one as well. Millions of dollars could be generated for New Jersey if gambling is approved, but the State could be condoning fair play and healthy competition by doing so. The NCAA has already announced it will schedule future championships outside of the Garden State. Is the money really worth alienating true sports fans?

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