AGA Still Trying Hard to Legalize Sports Betting Despite NJ Struggles

The American Gaming Association continues to push for legalized sports betting in the United States, noting the billions of dollars wagered illegally every year and a definite need for regulation. The AGA has estimated that $9.2 billion was bet illegally on the 2016 NCAA Tournament in March with $4.2 billion more on Super Bowl 50 in February. While these are the two most popular and heavily bet events of the year, several more billions of dollars are wagered illegally on other sports as well, making the AGA work harder than ever to fight the good fight through campaigning for legalization and regulation in hopes of shutting down the current underground criminal activities.

The AGA has already spent $690,000 this year and last on lobbying to legalize sports betting in the U.S., including the state of New Jersey’s appeal to allow it there. Back on February 17, the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments supporting New Jersey’s case for allowing the state’s casinos and racetracks to make sports betting available. Atlantic City along with New Jersey’s racetracks have been struggling financially, so generating income by providing additional wagering opportunities has been viewed as a potential solution to the problem if approved and regulated.

The Third Circuit has previously rejected efforts to legalize sports betting in New Jersey despite Governor Chris Christie passing a bill in 2014 that would repeal the state’s old laws without regulation. However, the NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB have sued to prevent sports betting from happening in New Jersey because it violates a 1992 federal ban called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or Bradley Act, which was designed to prohibit gambling and protect the integrity of the games.

Christie had also previously signed a bill into law in 2012 that would permit sports betting at any of New Jersey’s 12 casinos and four racetracks as long as they did not involve college events within the state or state colleges. In other words, a sports bettor could not wager on a Rutgers University college football game, home or away. A similar stance was taken in the state of Nevada for more than 40 years until it was repealed in 2001. Previously, bettors could not wager on any games involving UNLV or the University of Nevada. The reason was simple – college athletes who do not get paid could be subject to shaving points or fixing games in exchange for money.

Amateur sports are a much bigger deal because of that factor, and the trade-off for Nevada in allowing betting on its college teams was to prohibit wagering on the Olympics. Senator John McCain from Arizona had wanted all college sports to be taken off the board at Nevada sportsbooks, including football and basketball. McCain argued that if Nevada did not allow betting on the state’s own schools, why should any be allowed?

The Nevada Gaming Commission subsequently changed its regulations to allow betting on state schools while requiring sportsbooks to report any suspicious activity on games, like coaches or players getting action either themselves or through another party. If Nevada gets an NHL, NFL or other professional sports team in the near future, it is believed there would be no such restrictions placed on them though.