It was nice to see not one, but four professional sports leagues, plus the NCAA, join together in a lawsuit to block New Jersey from offering sports betting.
We understand that football is a hotbed for gaming, but as there are comparatively few fans of professional hockey, and none of professional basketball, did lawyers for those leagues need to get involved?
Nonetheless, they have, and now New Jersey faces the first real test in its effort to overcome the federal sports betting ban. The first test really was voters passing a referendum in November to allow the practice, though given how rarely voters strike down such initiatives, that was hardly a warm-up.
According to the filing, the argument for the leagues centers on the belief that the competition they oversee “must be determined, and must be perceived by the public as being determined, solely on the basis of honest athletic competition,” and that wagering taints that somehow. That would be a substantial point, except for two things: it’s perfectly legal to bet on sports in Las Vegas, and the amount of illegal gaming taking place is estimated to fall somewhere in the billions of dollars per year. So the leagues’ message is somehow that legalized, state-regulated sports betting is somehow more corruptible than a bookie who employs large, unshaven men to handle, ah, accounts receivable.
We applaud the state continuing to move ahead with its plans to institute sports wagering. Wagering in Vegas clearly hasn’t corrupted pro sports, and if it has, it’s mostly gone undetectable, except for those fans screaming at the referees on television. It’s time to end the practice of unfairly closing this avenue to all but four states; if nothing else, being able to throw a few bucks on a Jets-Giants game could keep the state’s
ailing casinos and flat-lining racetracks afloat — at least, until the rest of the country follows Trenton’s lead.