Bookies aren’t taking bets on New Jersey’s chances to get sports betting legalized in the state, although the match is certainly a heated one.
The state’s voters have lent ample political support for the governor and the legislature to press ahead with legalization when they asked for legal sports betting in a 2011 referendum – a political support, which Gov. Christie is using to the fullest.
First he threw the gauntlet down by signing a law that made betting legal at Atlantic City’s casinos and horse racing tracks. He then followed it up by a commitment to respond to all legal challenges. “If someone wants to stop us, then let them try to stop us,” said Gov. Christie at that time.
Under American gambling laws – more precisely, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 – there are only four American states where sports betting is legal: Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana.
Critics of the law, including those in NJ, insist that such provisions discriminate against inhabitants of other states who would also like to bet on sports in the US.
Supporters of the federal ban, especially the nation’s sports associations (NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball) are appalled by this stance, worrying about the impact of wagering on the integrity of the games.
NBA commissioner David Stern claimed that the state had “no idea what it’s doing and doesn’t care because all it’s interested in is making a buck or two.”
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig was equally indignant, accusing New Jersey of “corruption”.
They also mounted a legal challenge to thwart legalization efforts. The latest developments on that front saw a federal judge coming down against the state, claiming that the federal law was constitutional and it would be up to the US Congress to change it, not the judiciary. New Jersey appealed the decision, escalating it to just one level short of the US Supreme Court.
While the whole matter is not yet about online or mobile betting, overall legalization must of course happen first, before betting can move beyond the walls of the casinos and racetracks in New Jersey.