“Get The Hell Out Of Sports Betting” – Chris Christie to Feds and Leagues

Chris Christie will go down in history as the man who legalized sports betting in the United States.  And so it was fitting that he was the guest of honor at the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS) winter meeting in New Orleans last weekend.  It’s also not surprising that Christie was the catalyst for roughly two hundred and fifty people gathering to talk about sports betting. It was under his tenure that the state of New Jersey challenged and beat the federal sports betting ban known as PASPA.

The five largest US sports leagues filed injunctions against two separate NJ sports betting laws during that seven years-long court battle. And the state lost each of the first seven decisions.

According to Christie, the sports organizations have themselves to blame for the end result: “I believe [the hearing] was granted due to the underlying duplicity of the sports leagues.”

On the Integrity Fee Being Contemplated.

The former governor did not mince words in discussing the leagues’ effort to collect an integrity fee.

“The leagues — the arrogance of the leagues — is the other thing we need to talk about. All of you now are going to have these folks coming in to your state capitals and arguing to you that they should somehow now get something for free from you, that they were unwilling to settle on when they were in the midst of litigation.”

Christie says he was willing to compromise “any number of times along the way,” possibly including some type of fee for the leagues. But they showed no interest in compromise at the time.

“They laughed at me,” he said. “Every one of them laughed at me.” A moment later, he added: “They’re not laughing anymore.”

While most of the room was filled with lawmakers and regulators, there was also a table that included NBA Counsel Dan Spillane and others within the league lobbying alliance.

“They don’t have to be our enemy, and they shouldn’t be,” Christie continued. “But we don’t need to turn over these monies to those leagues. They don’t need it, and given their conduct over the last seven years, I’d argue to you they don’t deserve it either.  And if you do it, you’re rewarding bad behavior.”

On the Feds Getting Involved In General

For as adamant as he was in rejecting the leagues getting involved in Sports Betting after refusing to all along the journey, Chrystie was even more colorful about Congress potentially meddling in sports betting.

“We need to stand up and fight strongly against federal regulation on this,” he said. “We fought for seven years to get the right to do this ourselves. Let’s not give it away.”

As Christie and the courts agree, this is a states’ rights issue at its core. And case studies from jurisdictions like Nevada and New Jersey show that they’re well-equipped to regulate it.

“Where is the scandal that was borne out of Nevada sports gaming in any one of the leagues?” he asked. “Where did Nevada sports gaming ever seem like it was incapable of being regulated by the state regulators in Nevada? When I ask people in the federal government this, they can’t come up with one reason.”

Final Remarks

Rallying the troops once again, Christie offered some strong admonition for state lawmakers:

‘You balance the budget, provide for the national defense and get the hell out of sports gambling. You’ve got enough to do.’”

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