Professional sports leagues work at staying as far away from gambling as possible (unless it’s fantasy leagues, but they pretend you don’t put money into those). They don’t want the reality or perception of sports gambling leading to shaved points or game fixing.
So, not shockingly, NBA Commissioner David Stern — and the commissioners of the other major sports in the United States — does not like the idea that New Jersey wants to add sports gambling in Atlantic City and other spots in the state.
The leagues have filed a lawsuit to block the state from adding the ability to bet on the Packers or Dodgers or Knicks when you visit Atlantic City. In a deposition in that case released Friday and reported by the Associated Press, David Stern went hard at New Jersey and state governor Chris Christie.
“The one thing I’m certain of is New Jersey has no idea what it’s doing and doesn’t care because all it’s interested in is making a buck or two, and they don’t care that it’s at our potential loss,” Stern said when asked how the advent of sports betting in New Jersey would harm the NBA.
“And wholly apart from the fact that a governor, who’s a former U.S. Attorney, has chosen to attack a federal law which causes me pause for completely different reasons since I’ve at times sworn to similar oaths about upholding the law of the United States,” Stern continued.
New Jersey is doing this for the same reason every state is scrambling to find revenue — they are hurting a lot from the recession. They are cutting jobs, they are cutting services and they are looking for more money — and tax on sports betting is easy revenue.
Stern is all about driving up revenue in for his owners and businesses — which is exactly what Christie is trying to do. It’s only a matter of what side of the table Stern is sitting on here.
Personally I have no issue with New Jersey doing this — if the state can grab some of the money that is currently being bet offshore and make a few bucks for their coffers (and the casinos that hire people here) then go for it. That said I get the concern of Stern and other owners, but there is nothing that someone would do to damage the integrity of the NBA just because there is sports betting in New Jersey that the same person wouldn’t do for betting overseas.
But I’d be shocked if this new law isn’t blocked, not because Stern or any other sports league wants it blocked, but because it does clash with federal law.