U.S. appeals court strikes blow to sports gambling in New Jersey

AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, John Locher
AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, John Locher

A U.S. appeals court struck a blow to the expansion of legalized gambling on sporting events Tuesday by upholding a lower court ruling limiting the types of bets that can be made on single games in New Jersey. Although the general public’s stance on gambling may be softening, it doesn’t appear the federal government agrees that legalized gambling on sports should be opened up to the public outside of parlay cards and trips to Las Vegas.

It’s interesting to note that the appeal was on a 2012 decision that ruled in favor of the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB. It’s no secret some of the opinions of those leagues have changed, specifically with NBA commissioner Adam Silver coming out in favor of looking into how the U.S. could regulate some of the $140 billion of illegal gambling related to sporting events annually.

The market has changed since 2012, and daily fantasy sites such as DraftKings and FanDuel have developed a publicly accepted method for sports gambling. Make no mistake about fantasy sports being a game of skill, and daily fantasy sites have people wagering on the performance of professional athletes on a daily basis. Is there much difference between a fan spending $20 on a fantasy tournament and betting $20 on the Cowboys vs. the Patriots?

As public opinion continues to shift, along with opinions of leadership in major sports leagues, it would be a surprise if New Jersey doesn’t make another attempt to legalize gaming. The ancillary tax revenue for struggling states makes giving up on the fight difficult.

Only 20 years ago, casinos in general were much less prevalent. Now, according to Statista, there are more than 1,500 casinos in the U.S. Sports-related gaming accounts for less than 2 percent of gaming revenue in Las Vegas, but there is still a perception that allowing gambling on sports could erode the moral compass of fans as well as people involved in sports.

This surely isn’t the end of the fight. The American Gaming Assn. has already indicated that this issue won’t just go away.

Michael Colangelo is Senior Editor of The Fields of Green and Assistant Director at the USC Sports Business Institute.

Follow @MikeColange or @fog_sports on Twitter and like our Fields of Green Facebook page for updates.

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