The heads of professional sports leagues hate and fear legalized sports betting in New Jersey as about as much as you think they probably would.
Their opinions on the issues were laid bare in a recent, revealing, and somewhat amusing, legal depositions.
In the testimony, the commissioners of the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL shared their thoughts on how New Jersey’s proposed betting plan endangers professional sports.
Here’s how NBA Commissioner Davide Stern described the New Jersey case:
The one thing I’m certain of is New Jersey has no idea what it’s doing and doesn’t care because all it’s interested in is making a buck or two, and they don’t care that it’s at our potential loss.
If New Jersey cared a little more about the NBA, they obviously wouldn’t be trying to legalize sports betting.
Bud Selig, Commissioner of Major League Baseball, is so appalled by sports betting that he can hardly compose a coherent sentence:
But gambling is so … the threat of gambling and to create more threat is to me — I’m stunned. I know that people need sources of revenue, but you can’t — this is corruption in my opinion.
Selig did not elaborate on how New Jersey’s 2011 public referendum on allowing licensed casinos to offer sports betting qualified as, “corruption.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has come under fire for threatening to withhold Super Bowls from states with legal sports betting – while still allowing games in England where it’s also legal. Goodell himself sees no problem with the contradiction:
It’s not what we choose, it’s not what we believe is in the best interests of sports, but we don’t dictate the rules or the laws.
So he doesn’t dictate rules in England, just New Jersey?
Finally, in the strangely overconfident department, resides NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
Not to sound flip on this point but it’s inconceivable to me how we could lose this lawsuit…
The NHL, it should be noted, is in danger of having to cancel their entire season due to an extended labor dispute.
While the commissioners are talking tough, they may not have as strong a case as they think they’ve got. NJ’s lawyers are challenging the leagues to prove the actual damage sports betting has caused them in the past, as well as the specific damages New Jersey betting would cause.
That’s something these all powerful entities have never had to do in previous cases.