The state of New Jersey is continuing on its hard stance to legalize sports betting after announcing that they plan to start licensing sports betting on January 9, 2013. And yes, it appears that they’re set to do this despite some strong opposition on the other side of the fence. About the only thing that could derail the passing of the licenses is if the federal lawsuit by the NCAA and all four major professional sports leagues pushes on. But if it can be overcome, then New Jersey will green light sports betting in the state.
Let’s get ready to rumble.
Needless to say, the NCAA, a paragon of virtue that it is, announced that it would look for new hosts for its five championships that was originally set to be played in New Jersey next year. In a news release that appears to have been a response to New Jersey’s plans, NCAA executive vice president of championships and alliances Mark Lewis said, “Maintaining the integrity of sports and protecting student-athlete well-being are at the bedrock of the NCAA’s mission, and are reflected in our policies prohibiting the hosting of our championships in states that provide for single game sports wagering.”
“Consistent with our policies and beliefs, the law in New Jersey requires that we no longer host championships in the state,” Lewis added.
In addition to the NCAA, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, and Major League Baseball have all been up in arms over New Jersey’s plans to legalize sports betting. Late last week, Steven Stradbrooke reported that the sports leagues even are gearing up for a legal battle with the addition of Paul Clement, the former US Solicitor General under President George W. Bush, to their legal team. Ironically, as Stradbrooke pointed out, leading the fight on behalf of the state will be Theodore Olson, Clement’s predecessor as US Solicitor General.
With both sides ramping up, you would expect to have a lengthy battle akin to the Battle of Minas Tirith in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. But some on the side of the state aren’t all that worried about the lawsuit, including Sen. Raymond Lezniak, one of the primary proponents of legalizing sports betting in New Jersey. Despite having a contentious relationship with New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Lezniak is on board with Christie’s grand vision of allowing sports betting to happen in the state, pointing out that the lawsuits filed by the pro sports leagues will “deter New Jersey residents from being able to place a bet on their favorite sporting events and enjoy the action at one of Atlantic City’s casinos”.
For his part, Christie has been front-and-center in this issue, having come out in full regalia earlier this year to dare the sports leagues to stop his intentions of legalizing ports betting in the state despite being knowingly aware that there’s a federal law (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) on sports betting on all but four states – Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana – and that he would get sued over his decision. “It will be another exciting way to add to the experience here in Atlantic City, and I know this is something people have been waiting for for a long time,” the governor said before adding, “if someone wants to stop us, then they’ll have to take action to try and stop us.”
Turns out, the professional sports leagues have taken him up on that offer, yet it seems that the state remains undeterred over the impending legal proceedings. They’re so confident that the state Division of Gaming Enforcement even published regulations for sports betting in the New Jersey Register earlier this week. That’s how confident they are.
David Rebuck, the division’s director, explained the regulations, saying that “With the publication of these regulations, New Jersey ensures effective regulation and oversight of sports wagering, consistent with its longstanding nationwide reputation for maintaining integrity and instilling public confidence in gaming operations.”
“The Division of Gaming Enforcement will begin processing applications submitted by any interested party seeking licensure,” Rebuck adds.
“We are confident that there will be no legal impediments; if the court finds differently, we will consider all of the options before us.”
The lines in the sand have definitely been drawn and it certainly looks like the state of New Jersey isn’t backing down by any means. Expect more fireworks from both sides to come out before the year ends. Something tells us this fight is far from over. Far, far from it.
Where’s Michael Buffer when you need him?