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Sports Betting Facing Obstacles in New Jersey, Delaware

Written by:
Jagajeet Chiba
Published on:
Jul/26/2009
Sports Betting

The major sports leagues have made it abundantly clear.  They do not want legalized sports betting in either Delaware or New Jersey.  Both states claim sports betting will help to boost their respective economies. 

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell issued a statement this past week saying sports betting plan will create jobs and help pay for government services.

Lawyers for the four major pro sports leagues and the NCAA are expected to seek an injunction this week to stop Delaware from implementing sports betting, however. 

Five major sports leagues, including the NFL, sued Delaware Friday, saying Delaware's sports betting plan would irreparably harm professional and amateur sports, creating suspicion that games were influenced by factors other than honest athletic competition.

For New Jersey, it's the Department of Justice (DOJ) presenting the biggest obstacle.

Lawyers for the US Department of Justice asked a US District Court last week to block New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine (D) from joining a legal challenge to a Federal law preventing his state from offering legal sports wagering, as other states like Nevada and Delaware do.

"The constitutional claims that the Governor seeks to advance do not belong to him; they belong, instead, to the State of New Jersey," read the brief submitted by the DOJ, in opposition to Gov. Corzine's own motion to intervene in the suit, brought by the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (iMEGA), NJ State Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), and the state's horse racing associations.

Late last week came word that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) wrote a letter to US Attorney-General Eric Holder, asking him to vigorously oppose a suit challenging the Federal law banning the expansion of state licensed and regulated sports wagering in New Jersey, brought by the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (iMEGA).

"We are writing to express our concern regarding the efforts in both Delaware and New Jersey to challenge Congress' consistent and long-held prohibitions on sports wagering," the senators wrote to Holder. "While the efforts in these two states vary, they both threaten to greatly expand sports gambling and undermine the integrity of our national pastimes. We urge the Department of Justice to defend and enforce the existing federal prohibition against sports betting and take the necessary action to safeguard amateur and professional sports."

Joe Brennan Jr., iMEGA chairman, said in response, "While I respect and share the senators' desire to uphold the integrity of the games we love, the fact is their way - opposing state regulated sports wagering - leaves an estimated $380 billion sports wagering market out there unprotected, with no oversight, and at the mercy of criminal elements that are far more able to try to affect the outcome of a game than if the state stepped in and took the business away from them."

"The senators and the leagues can make their pronouncements about "integrity", and then stick their heads in the sand," Brennan said, "because that's the only vantage point from which the current unregulated marketplace is preferable to a state-regulated sports wagering market."

While New Jersey is yet to move forward with legalizing sports betting, Delaware has already set the foundation.

"We knew that there would be some legal issues, which is why the governor sought advice from the state Supreme Court," Markell spokesman Joe Rogalsky said Saturday. "The Supreme Court gave us the green light to go ahead."

Delaware's Governor plans to choose a vendor over the next few weeks for a system that would operate at three race tracks in the state.

Jagajeet Chiba, Gambling911.com 

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