More fear mongering - backed by little evidence - came from the big pro sports leagues in New Jersey's fight to legalize sports betting in the state, this time from NBA Commissioner David Stern.
“It’s a policy problem, whether the great state of New Jersey should engage in actions which are certain to put more compulsive gamblers into play and cause people to bet their grocery money on gambling,” Stern said, according to this report by John Brennan, who has done a fine job of covering the New Jersey case closely.
But just like the Bill C-290 single-event wagering debate in Canada, when league representatives were pressed to show hard evidence that backs their claims, they failed to present any. Instead? Rhetoric and apparent shock that anyone dare question the notion that legalized sports betting would lead humanity to a darker place.
“'I would bet at least a nickel – if I were a betting man, which I’m not, that legalized gambling would indeed exacerbate the problem."
“So I am stunned by the underpinnings of your question – but, I know you have a job to do,” Stern said.
More comments from Stern:
He claimed New Jersey is blindly ignorant in its quest to legalize sports betting:
"The one thing I am certain of is that 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."
On the NBA, a multi billion-dollar corporation, being a victim in this case:
“...because New Jersey needs to make a couple of bucks because everything we were afraid of when Atlantic City organized gambling for the first time has come to pass, that the state is seeking to victimize us.”
On the historical context when the league, along with other groups, opposed adding casinos to Atlantic City in the 70s:
“And of course, there was no benefit to the city of Atlantic City. Subsequent mayors – many of them were taken out in handcuffs – and there were, as I recall, increases in prostitution, absenteeism, loansharking, and alcoholism.”
And, much like the NFL did, Stern played dumb on claims that playing fantasy sports, which are endorsed by the leagues, have anything to do with gambling:
“I would doubt it – but I would say the connection is tenuous. The idea that in this pretend game, where I’ve selected a player, that that would affect your rooting interest in the game – I wouldn’t think that would be the case at all. I don’t think that fantasy has any impact on how they root for a team.”
Even if they have a financial interest in that fantasy team, he was asked?:
“I don’t know what their financial interest is, and neither do you, so we’re dealing with a hypothetical that I can’t get my head around,” Stern said.