Canada’s proposed sportsbetting law amendment has come under fire from the professional sports leagues in North America. They argue that the integrity of their leagues and the security of athletes would be in danger by amending Canada’s laws to legalize single game wagers. The leagues have made similar arguments in New Jersey where the state is actively fighting against a federal ban on sportsbetting, and last week New Jersey District Judge Michael Shipp agreed that the leagues arguments are valid.
Sportsbetting is illegal in most 46 US states – the exceptions being Nevada which allows all methods of game betting, along with legal multi-game bets in Delaware, Oregon, and Montana. New Jersey has argued that these states are ‘grandfathered’ from the 1990 law that prohibits sportsbetting, and discriminates against all other states by preventing them from legalizing sportsbetting. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has promised to defy the law by enacting licensing deals for legal sportsbetting across the state – Atlantic City casinos already allow wagers on games.
However, Judge Shipp ruled that arguments from the major leagues that question the security of their athletes and the integrity of their games are based on merit. This ruling gives the leagues the legal support they need to challenge New Jersey if it does enact state-wide sportsbetting legislation. Christie promised to give the leagues 30 days notice before the law would be amended and so far that hasn’t happened – it could very well not happen with the ruling from Shipp.
New Jersey Representative Frank Pallone Jr., who has worked in the US House of Representatives to change the federal ban on sportsbetting, says the legal decision is preposterous. He says the leagues should be more concerned about how illegal bets threaten the security of their games, and suggests state licensing could go a long way to ending those illegal operations.
“The fact is that the presence of illegal betting and the crime that goes with it has a far greater impact on the legitimacy of sports organization.”
New Jersey is in the midst of major changes to their gambling laws, but this ruling could delay or defeat many of these changes before they can be adopted.