Sports betting should be legal in the Garden State

You can say this about Chris Christie — he loves a good fight.

Christie and his administration have gotten exactly what they wanted — a chance to take on the NFL, the NCAA and all the major national professional sports leagues on the topic of sports betting.

This is commentary from political blogger and cartoonist Rob Tornoe.

You can say this about Chris Christie — he loves a good fight.

Christie and his administration have gotten exactly what they wanted — a chance to take on the NFL, the NCAA and all the major national professional sports leagues on the topic of sports betting.

You see, back in 1992, the federal government passed a law that restricts betting on college and professional sports in four states: Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon.

Nevada is the only state that isn’t limited in what type of sports betting they are allowed to offer. The Feds gave New Jersey a chance to become the fifth state in 1993, but the state declined to act.

Christie is ready to change all of that.

Despite the federal ban, the state legislature passed a law that Christie signed that would allow sports bets to be taken at all Atlantic City casinos and New Jersey’s four horse racing tracks. With the professional sports leagues now suing the state, Christie can make the case that the 1992 law is unconstitutional.

“I don’t believe that the federal government has the right to decide that only certain states can have sports gambling. On what basis?” Christie asked.

“If there was a grand nationwide prohibition, there wouldn’t be an argument, but how is it that sports gambling in New Jersey is going to affect the sports leagues more than it already affects the sports leagues in Nevada?”

I think Christie is on the right side of this argument.

Does anyone actually believe placing a bet on a football game is more harmful to the “reputations and goodwill” between fans and teams if it’s made in Atlantic City rather than Las Vegas?

 New Jerseyans don’t think so. Last fall, residents voted by a 2-to-1 margin via referendum that they wanted sports betting to be legal in New Jersey.

What these professional leagues seem to want to ignore is sports betting is happening everywhere — illegally.

Is anyone so naive to think newspapers print the point spread every day in the sports section for fun? And those league-mandated injury reports are for the casual, non-betting fans, right? Don’t even get me started on the NCAA and their promotion of the Final Four’s “bracketology.”

There’s also something laughable about the NCAA taking the moral high ground on sports gambling while engaging in a million-dollar lawsuit with money earned by the sweat of unpaid student athletes.

What about the NFL?

They’re righteously fending off sports betting in New Jersey at the same time they’re defending themselves against allegations from 2,000 former players that the league’s response to brain injuries has been full of “deceit and deception.”

Awkward.

The benefit of legalizing sports betting in a state like New Jersey is it takes the money and power away from the Tony Sopranos of the world, and places it under the government umbrella of a well-regulated industry.

Christie is right on the merits. I wonder what the odds are of him winning. Anyone willing to give me 2-1?

 

 

Rob Tornoe is a political cartoonist and a WHYY contributor. See more of his work at RobTornoe.com, and follow him on twitter @RobTornoe.

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