New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) opined this week on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel that the “Big Four” professional sports leagues, the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL, “no longer have moral ground” to stand on when it comes to their continued opposition to sports betting legalization.
The outspoken governor and 2016 presidential candidate pointed to the fact that the NHL has put a franchise in Las Vegas, and the NFL’s Oakland Raiders are scheduled to relocate to Sin City in 2020.
“The hypocrisy is just so overwhelming,” Christie opined on Tuesday night’s broadcast. “They say because we have the Giants and the Jets and the Devils that somehow we shouldn’t be allowed to have gambling here because somehow it will threaten the integrity of the game. You kidding? How isn’t it threatening the integrity of the game in Las Vegas for the NHL and the NFL?”
The NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights began playing this fall at T-Mobile Arena just steps from the Strip’s dozens of sportsbooks. The Raiders are breaking ground on a $1.9 billion NFL domed stadium behind Mandalay Bay across the I-15 Las Vegas Freeway.
“That’s why they no longer have moral high ground on this,” Christie concluded. “They cannot make the integrity of the game argument anymore because they have now gone to the sports gambling capital of America and put two of the four major sports.”
Sports Betting History
The US Supreme Court will soon hear arguments on PASPA, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 that largely outlawed sports gambling in all but four states. Today, only Nevada takes full advantage of its immunity from the federal law, a privilege that was provided due to the Silver State having some sort of sports betting at the time of the legislation’s passage.
The high court will review the matter on December 4, and issue a ruling in 2018.
New Jersey voters approved a constitutional ballot referendum in November 2011 that allowed the state legislature to sign sports betting gambling into law. The state did just that the following year, but the sports leagues quickly filed suit on grounds that New Jersey cannot pass a law that contradicts overriding federal statutes.
In 2014, Christie signed a clever piece of legislation that repealed federal sports betting prohibitions placed on New Jersey. The NCAA, along with the Big Four, successfully sued, and appeals courts have routinely sided with the sporting leagues.
New Jersey’s legal argument is that the US government cannot force states to abide to policies that the federal Congress itself doesn’t fully embrace across all 50 states. They also argue that PASPA violates the Tenth Amendment.
Trump Administration Opinion
Despite being a longtime casino owner, President Donald Trump’s administration is supporting the Big Four and NCAA. US Solicitor General Noel Francisco, a position often referred to as the “Tenth Justice,” advised the high court in a brief this week to uphold the findings of lower courts.