When the citizens of New Jersey approved a measure allowing sports betting in Atlantic City casinos, if sports betting were actually legalized, they knew they were in for a fight. Now, nearly eight years later, the bill for that fight is coming in and it’s clocking in at around $8.5 million in legal fees.

State officials, however, are betting that legalized sports betting will bring in much more than $8.5 million to the struggling casinos of Atlantic City. According to a recent report on The Press of Atlantic City, regulated sports betting is expected to generate more than $173 million in new revenue while creating more than 3,633. Those are extremely ambitious numbers, but they’re backed up by a report from Oxford Economics.

Of course not everyone is convinced that regulated sports betting is the answer to all that ails the boardwalk casinos of Atlantic City.┬áDavid Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas recently pointed out that sports betting is only a two percent drop in the bucket of Nevada’s total gaming revenue.

While Schwartz is correct about the relatively small role sports betting plays in Nevada, he doesn’t mention the potential of regional competitors who would also be offering sports betting in their casinos. Pennsylvania, which is one of the largest casino markets in the country, would almost certainly offer sports betting in its thriving casinos. That would steal a lot of thunder of Atlantic City.

All these arguments are, for the moment, theoretical. The US Supreme Court has yet to issue a decision on whether or not it’s willing to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), which would allow New Jersey and other states to offer sports betting. That decision is expected to come any day now and, when it does, it’s likely that that $8.5 million will seem like money well spent.

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