Whether we're making a friendly wager or calling a bookie to place a bet, nearly all of us have made some sort of sports bet at some point in our lives. That's why the movement by the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and NCAA in filing a lawsuit that would block a New Jersey law that would legalize sports betting in state casinos is so confusing.
When asked about the lawsuit, New Jersey governor Chris Christie was upfront about his confidence in the state's right to pass the law, saying, "I think we’re going to win. I think we’re going to win. Because I don’t believe the federal government has the right to decide that only certain states can have sports gambling."
The leagues involved in filing the lawsuit claims, "Gambling on amateur and professional sports threatens the integrity of those sports and is fundamentally at odds with the principle … that the outcome of collegiate and professional athletic contests must be determined, and must be perceived by the public as being determined, solely on the basis of honest athletic competition."
As it currently stands, only Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon have the ability to offer sports betting at state casinos. This is because those were the only states that opted into the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act back in 1992. The state of New Jersey argues that the federal government doesn't have the ability to determine which states can and cannot host sports betting.
As it stands, governor Christie and the state of New Jersey seem content to take the issue to court with the NFL and the other major sports leagues that have thrown their support behind the lawsuit.
In the end, the NFL's argument is weak at best. Sports betting has always been perceived as a grey area in sports, and many leagues choose to ignore the issue instead of addressing it directly. To say the least, this is a court battle we'll be keeping an eye on in the coming months.