NJ Governor Chris Christie Endorses Legalized Sports Betting
We don’t know where Snookie and the Situation stand on the issue of legalized sports betting in New Jersey, but we do know that last week voters in the Garden State found out their governor’s take on the issue.
A referendum on legalized sport betting received a big boost last week when Governor Chris Christie formally endorsed the measure. The initiative, which enjoys wide support, asks Jersey voters if they are in favor of allowing legal sports betting if the federal ban is ever lifted.
Sports betting would be huge boost to New Jersey’s struggling gaming industry, which has been hard hit by competition from Tribal casinos such as Foxwoods.
Christie told reporters that illegal betting is already widespread in the state, which allows table games and other forms of betting. Sports betting is so widespread in New Jersey that a fan sitting next to the governor at recent New York Giants game complained that their failure to cover the spread blew his parlay.
This isn’t the first time this issue has come up in the Garden State, but it’s the first time the Governor has weighed in (no pun intended) positively. Some critics have suggested his reluctance to endorse previous measures was based more on bids to bring the Super Bowl to the state than his own convictions.
Though this latest measure specifically bans betting on college sports that take place in New Jersey, that’s unlikely to mean much to the NFL and NCAA. In the past, NFL officials have said that they won’t allow playoff games in states with legal sports betting. (Though every NFL playoff game takes place in states with massive illegal gambling industries.)
Even if the measure passes in December, Jersey bookies will have little to worry about because the federal ban is unlikely to be lifted anytime soon, if ever.
Under the terms of the 1996 Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act, sports betting is only allowed in states where it was legal before the act passed. Those states include:
- Nevada – Wagers accepted on all professional and College events.
- Montana – The State Government operates Montana Sports Action, a combination of fantasy football and lottery. Wagering on individual games is not permitted.
- Oregon – Though sports betting is legal, the state shut down their Sports Lottery in 2006 so that they could host the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
- Delaware – Bettors can play parlay and teaser cards during football season only.
New Jersey could have qualified for legalized betting under a provision of the act, written specifically for the state, but legislators tanked the issue and the window of opportunity closed.
The electoral action in New Jersey won’t likely effect affiliates any time soon, but it could represent another step forward in the fight to legalize all forms of gaming.
Will the New Jersey referendum have any impact on online sportsbooks and affiliates? Let us know your opinion in our Online Gambling Laws & Regulation forum.