New Jersey could very likely be the next state to permit gambling on sports, since there are growing calls to legalise it. After all, the United States permits gambling on fantasy sports, which aren’t very different. Representatives across the board have tried to take the legislative route to permit sports gambling, and there have been separate proposals supported by Rep. Frank Pallone (D) and Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R) in the past. However, both proposals have been bogged down by committees.
As things stand today, the four large sports leagues in the United States are firmly against the legalisation of sports betting and they have support from the NCAA in this matter. They maintain that sports betting will have the effect of corrupting the sport, not only at the professional level, but also at the collegiate level, and that this will diminish the sport in the eyes of fans.
The issue has been taken to court repeatedly and the sports leagues got together in 2012 to sue New Jersey in order to prevent it from legalising sports betting. Subsequent to that, the leagues do not seem to have changed their stands even though illegal sports betting proliferates in the United States and the business is worth billions of dollars without any benefit to the exchequer.
Strangely enough, the sports leagues are in favour of permitting betting on fantasy sports leagues in which players get to draft contemporary players into ‘dream teams’ and then bet on the performances of their teams depending on how the individual players perform on the actual sports ground.
Advocates of sports betting say that the attitude of the United States sporting establishment smacks of hypocrisy since fantasy sports betting depends as much on the performance of players as conventional sports betting does. Just because it is termed a game of skill and not of chance doesn’t make it any less than gambling.
Rep. Pallone is of the opinion that legalisation is the only way out of this problem. After all, the New Jersey issue has not been finalised and the issue still has to be finalised by federal court. He has written to the Committee on Energy and Commerce in order to ask for a hearing on the issue with specific reference to how the pro leagues are deeply involved with fantasy sports leagues. The explosion in the number of fantasy leagues, and the way in which they are advertised during major sports events, has given the issue a greater sense of urgency.
The advocates of legalised sports wagering can take heart from the fact that some of the senior most sports officials in the United States seem to be softening their stands even though their organisations are together fighting legal battles to prevent it. The commissioners of the National Hockey League, National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball have each come out in public saying that they felt it was necessary to re-examine the issue of sports betting. However, representatives of the leagues did not respond to requests for a statement.