Chris Christie is taking on the federal government.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is planning to enact a state regulation passed this January that will allow gambling on all sports at New Jersey horse tracks and Atlantic City casinos this fall. The legalization of sports gambling in New Jersey would violate the 1992 federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. This Act only allows sports wagering in four states, Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana, although Nevada is the only state fully embracing the law. The Governor is ready for a legal fight from the federal government but expects to be successful. Of course, sports betting was favored by New Jersey voters by a 2-to-1 margin. Governor Christie also said that half of the revenue generated by sports gambling would go toward treatment programs for compulsive gamblers.

Although the NFL is unlikely to look kindly on Christie’s “gamble,” Tim Dahlberg from the Associated Press thinks it is time to do away with the antiquated sports betting stigma. In addition, Dan Wetzel from Yahoo! Sports thinks Christie is making a good bet. Wetzel argues that the laws do not make sense and allow billions to go to offshore operations and organized crime (sports gambling is an estimated $350 billion industry). He goes as far as saying that the laws are “pure, unadulterated stupidity.” Wetzel does not buy other politicians’ arguments that they are protecting consumers from the ills of sports betting when other types of gambling are legal. He also asks the question begging for an answer, if sports gambling is so bad, why is it even allowed in one state? To allow it in Nevada is the upmost hypocrisy. Of course, there are other more practical reasons to legalize sports gambling. Wetzel points out that the illegalization of sports wagering prevents the winnings from being taxed, which could help out with the current debt situation. In addition, legalization would allow for regulation, which could cut off criminal activity.
So what do you think? Is Governor Christie making a good “bet”?

— R.L. Florance

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