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Volume 24 No. 113

Sports in Society

Top-ranking officials from the four major pro sports leagues and NCAA "are certain that legalized sports betting in New Jersey would damage their games," but deposition testimony from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NBA Commissioner David Stern, among others, "left many sports betting industry experts dumbfounded," according to David Purdum of SPORTING NEWS. For example, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig "doesn’t know if fans are betting on baseball." NFL Labor Relations Counsel Lawrence Ferazani Jr. "isn’t aware some fans play fantasy football for money." However, the most surprising thing for Florida State Univ. Assistant Professor of Sports Law Ryan Rodenberg was the "amount of redacted information in the testimonies." Selig’s and Stern’s "entire deposition testimonies are redacted, in addition to large portions of other court documents." The judge has "given the U.S. Attorney General’s office until Jan. 20 to interject in the case." Asked what role the federal government has over the next month, Rodenberg said, "Any casino that wants to put a sports book in is still going to be very hesitant. It’s one thing for New Jersey’s governor to face a civil lawsuit by a number of private sports leagues, but it’s different when the U.S. marshals come knocking at your door and shut you down. The federal government could still take a position in this case, and the Department of Justice usually upholds federal laws." Purdum noted the leagues have "repeatedly said legal sports betting could compromise the game." However, most "industry experts believe legalization and added regulation would actually increase protection for the game’s integrity." Rodenberg said, "A transparent, regulated market can have a cleansing effect, because you see trends. Curiously, this is one issue where the five plaintiffs diverge." Purdum noted the leagues also believe legal betting "would hurt their relationship with fans." Rodenberg: "The whole uncertainty of outcome hypothesis that economists always talk about, I don’t think there is a lot of empirical support for it" (, 12/12).