Horse and dog racing both have investigative boards that are constantly on the look out for all sorts of bad behavior on the parts of owners, trainers, and jockeys, including the fixing of races. Their arguments against legalization are not nearly as strong, especially when many teams willingly allow their logos to be used on lottery tickets.
One protest the leagues like to make is their fear that legalization of gambling on their sports will change people from “fans” into “bettors.” That the results versus the point spread may matter more to people watching than who actually won and lost.
What the professional league truly fear is that some sort of regulation or oversight would accompany the legalization of betting upon their games. If New Jersey follows through on its threat to open up betting windows in the fall, and it can win it subsequent court case(s) that follow, California will be right on its heels to allow wagering as well. If and when New Jersey attempts to take sports wagers come this fall, undoubtedly their actions will be challenged in federal court due to PASPA.
A prohibition on wagering on these collegiate athletic events won’t stop eager fans from gambling on them; however, the NCAA does possess enough clout to prevent championship games from being played in states where gambling upon their games is legalized. The athletes remain unpaid. Sports are supposed to be only an extension of these schools.
Because a change is coming. Legalization would stem that tide, turning it into an above-the-table endeavor in which bettors could not wager on credit as they do with their local bookie. Imagine a similar governing body in a sense policing the professional sports leagues. How different would their drug testing policies, or their suspensions and fines for law-breaking athletes be if someone outside the sport monitored athletes?
Lawmakers in California recently gave bipartisan support towards legalizing sports gambling in the state. Some claims are that the NFL has $1 billion wagered each week upon its games with even more betting taking place during the playoffs. College athletics, even the highly lucrative football and basketball programs established at schools nationwide, are supposed to be amateur events. Once the dam cracks, it will collapse and sports betting will be spread across the country–legally, for once.
While New Jersey Senator Frank LoBiondo has introduced a bill in Congress to undo PASPA, that effort is meeting with dissension from both the professional sports leagues and the NCAA.. The measure would allow Indian casinos, horse tracks, and card clubs the ability to book bets on sporting events.
Never mind that (a) the leagues willingly promote fantasy sports which often possess a gambling element and makes fans care more for a player’s performance over and above a team’s and (b) the vast, illegal sports gambling industry already thriving in the United States.
Such a challenge could put PASPA before the Supreme Court, allowing it to decide whether a federal law granting four states a right which the other 46 cannot have is Constitutional or not.
The NCAA makes a worthy claim against the legalization of wagering upon their sports. This would perhaps protect gamblers from getting in too deep with the mob, both from gambling and loan sharking which often accompanies this behavior.
This is something the leagues will fight against tooth-and-nail…unless, of course, they can determine a way in which to profit from the billions of dollars soon to be legally wagered upon their games.
It’s estimated that anywhere from $80 to $380 billion is wagered illegally on sporting events each year. Both New Jersey and California don’t seem to care as the loss of one revenue stream may be greatly enhanced from the addition of another.
But California is taking a slightly conservative approach, allowing New Jersey to first test the federal laws that currently create a prohibition on sports gambling outside of Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Wyoming.
The professional sports leagues can’t take a similar stand as the NCAA. All of that money goes untaxed, unregulated, and often into the pockets of organized crime.
New Jersey recently voted to amend their state constitution to legalize sports betting; however, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) put a federal halt on any state not already possessing sports gambling laws from adding such measures
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