National Basketball League commissioner David Stern has openly criticized both New Jersey and the state governor Chris Christie for having the audacity to try and enact a sports betting bill in the state. AP reports Stern as saying the East Coast has “no idea what it’s doing” and it’s purely “interested in making a buck and two, and they don’t care that it’s at our potential loss”. The words were part of a disposition published on Friday that is the latest swipe back by the major professional sports leagues and NCAA at a state that is attempting to do something that falls outside of the league’s close control.
Those of you that are familiar with Stern will be crowing about the hypocrisy present and we haven’t forgotten Stern’s interview with Sports Illustrated back in 2009 either. In that he said sports betting could no longer be opposed on moral grounds and therefore it was a “possibility” that represented a “huge opportunity” for the sport. Even the sternest of leopards can change their spots.
Stern wasn’t the only commish with a bone to pick, as Bud Selig, his counterpart from Major League Baseball, was only just able to get his words out, such was his utter annoyance at the situation being out of their control.
“I know states need money. I really mean that. I understand all the problems. Federal government needs money, going over a cliff, cities need money. Chris Christie needs money. 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. I have to say to you I’m appalled. I’m really appalled.”
Roger Goodell, the National Football League’s big cheese, was asked about how there’s any difference when their league takes games to the UK or Canada and he replied by saying: “Well, we’re playing in their country, we’re coming to them. And we’re only there for a short period of time; we’re there for two or three days. 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.”
Gary Bettman, commissioner of the dormant National Hockey League, was asked whether any NHL policies would change if the law were to stand. His reply was that it was “inconceivable” to him how they could lose the suit.
Next up is Jan. 9 when the state plans to issue its first sports betting licences and the federal government has until Jan. 20 to intervene in the debate. So keep ‘em peeled.