SBD/August 8, 2012/Sports in Society

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  • NCAA, Pro Leagues Sue To Stop Sports Betting In New Jersey

    Christie has "no concerns" the legal battle will lead NFL to relocate '14 Super Bowl

    The NCAA and four major U.S. pro sports leagues -- MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL -- yesterday filed a complaint against New Jersey state officials seeking to stop the state from implementing sports betting on pro and college games. In the filing in federal court in Trenton, the leagues and NCAA assert that the state's recently announced decision to offer sports betting violates long-standing federal law, specifically the Professional & Amateur Sports Protection Act that was passed in '92 (NCAA). New Jersey Sen. Ray Lesniak said, "From the start, we wanted our day in court to prove that the federal ban on sports wagering is unconstitutional. ... Their lawsuit [yesterday] means they've played right into our hands, and now they have the burden of defending the constitutionality of an unfair sports wagering ban." In New Jersey, John Brennan noted state voters "overwhelmingly passed a referendum last November to amend the Constitution to allow sports betting, which is permitted by federal law only in Nevada and in a very limited form in Delaware, Oregon and Montana." In May, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said, "We intend to go forward. If someone wants to stop us, then let them try to stop us." New Jersey was the lone state back in '92 to "be given a one-year window by Congress to pass a referendum allowing sports betting, but the issue never made it onto the ballot in 1993" (NORTHJERSEY.com, 8/7).

    SUPER BOWL STILL SAFE: Christie said that he "had 'no concerns' that the state's being in a legal battle with the NFL would lead the league to move the 2014 Super Bowl out of MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands." Christie: "Have I gotten any direct assurances from Commissioner (Roger) Goodell, no I haven't. But I saw him last week, or two weeks ago when I was in Idaho, and he certainly didn't raise the issue with me in our conversations about holding the Super Bowl. So I think we'll be fine." He added, "I think we can walk and chew gum at the same time" (Bergen RECORD, 8/8).

    IS IT CONSTITUTIONAL? In Atlantic City, Hoa Nguyen notes while the sports leagues have "sued some states, such as Delaware, when that state tried to expand its sports-gambling programs, this suit will likely raise questions around the constitutionality of the law." Some critics of the law "believe it discriminates against some states and that it violates the 10th Amendment, which protects states' rights." In order for the sports league to win an injunction, "lawyers must show that they have a good chance of winning on the merits of their lawsuit and that they would be 'irreparably harmed' if sports gambling were allowed to proceed while the matter was before the court." Monmouth Park operator Dennis Drazin said that he "wants to join the fight in favor of starting sports betting in New Jersey by seeking to intervene" in the suit. Drazin said, "We definitely intend to move on behalf of the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, which operates Monmouth Park. We believe our position will be the same as the state" (PRESS OF ATLANTIC CITY, 8/8).

    PIECE OF THE PIE: A Morris County DAILY RECORD editorial states, "Whether its case succeeds or not, we're all for New Jersey waging the battle. Sports betting is so widespread these days -- legally and illegally -- and so readily available to anyone who wishes to gamble anywhere that there's little reason for the state not to pursue legalization so it can at least cash in on accompanying tax revenue. Meanwhile, the lawsuit frankly reeks of hypocrisy." The editorial: "Yes, gambling is a constant danger to the integrity of sports, but that's been true since games of competition were invented, and it will not become a meaningfully greater threat if sports betting is legalized in New Jersey." Sports leagues "do take gambling very seriously, and rightly so." But gambling is "already an entrenched part of the sporting landscape, so we encourage state officials to go after our slice of the pie." There is "little harm in trying" (Morris County DAILY RECORD, 8/8).

    POCKET CHANGE: CSNBAYAREA.com's Ray Ratto wrote if one is "looking for the moral component here, you won't find it in either the plaintiffs or defendants." Maybe the leagues "wouldn't look so bad if they also hadn't gone to court in the past to ban fantasy sports by claiming they owned the numbers their players produced." Ratto: "But they did it. And they lost" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 8/7).

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