The state of New Jersey and Governor Chris Christie have been trying to legalize gambling on sports for over the past two years. After a few setbacks, it looks like they will get another shot at allowing fans to wager on the outcome of games.
The court case will be very interesting, especially with daily fantasy sites being at the forefront of the news. If DFS is a game of skill, it is pretty tough to argue that gambling on the outcomes of games is not; especially if this type of gambling can be studied and researched by fans looking to bet on games in a similar manner to what people do in fantasy sports. That probably won’t be the argument that the state of New Jersey takes — they will most likely argue that this is a state’s rights issue that should not be regulated by the federal government — but the general public seems to be opening up to the idea of legalizing proposition and outcome-based gambling.
As we have seen, the best way to get in front of any issues with gambling is to make sure it is extremely regulated and controlled. States are losing money to illegal gambling, which isn’t taxed and supports organized crime. What New Jersey is looking to do will help the state with revenue and vice crime issues. It’s a logical step for a state that has had gambling in Atlantic City for over a century.
This is something everyone in sports will have to keep an eye on. It is important to note the major leagues in the U.S. are against the state of New Jersey in this case. The leagues’ opinions may have shifted — as Adam Silver has repeatedly discussed taking a deeper look at legalized gambling and the benefits of regulating the process — but they could come off as hypocritical if this appeal gains national coverage. The differences between DFS and outcome-related gambling are legal semantics. Fans may start to ask why the leagues feel comfortable with DFS but not what New Jersey has proposed.
Michael Colangelo is Managing Editor of The Fields of Green and Assistant Director at the USC Sports Business Institute.