Believe it: Sports betting on way to being legal in 2012

This afternoon New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed the bill into law making sports betting legal in the state, but Atlantic City sportsbooks won’t be writing tickets until the federal ban on sports betting is overturned.

As I Tweeted earlier, I believe we’ll see that ban reversed sooner than later, maybe even before the year is out. New Jersey Senator Ray Lesniak has already guaranteed the fight against the feds will be won and call me a sucker for optimism, but I believe him.

While it’s true the NFL and NCAA will flex its hypocritical muscle at the political level and in the courts, just as it did during Delaware’s push for legalized sports betting in 2010, this time I believe the decision will go the way of the bettors. 

Crazy? Easy to say, sure. This isn’t the first time New Jersey and other states have tried to upend the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which prohibits betting on sports for all but Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon.

But the climate for legalized wagering in various forms has changed dramatically, even since the start of 2011.

Remember back in March when Gov. Christie vetoed legislation that would have made online wagering legal in the Garden State? At the time, even the now-confident Lesniak said: "His veto message was so discouraging that I'm not particularly optimistic we can reach an agreement with regard to (Christie's) concerns."

Things went from discouraging to depressing when Black Friday came down a short time later and the Dept. of Justice began cracking down on the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006). The offshore sportsbook and poker world was flipped on its head. Sportsbooks scrambled and bettors panicked as payouts stopped and indictments were handed out.

I have to admit, at the time I felt a sense of pending doom for this industry I don’t remember experiencing back in 2006.

Fast forward, and the D.o.J. changed its stance on the 1961 Wire Act, releasing an opinion Christmas Eve that the act only prohibited online betting for sporting events, not Internet games like poker or lotteries. That’s huge progress in a law that has looked nearly impenetrable for 50 years.

Nevada’s Gaming Control Board, meanwhile, has voted to allow online poker within its state, Washington D.C. passed a law to allow online poker in April and Canada has made huge strides toward making single game sports wagering legal north of the border.  If you think the latter doesn’t mean much, ask the maligned city of Detroit how it will feel when it starts watching revenue fly across the border as bettors flock to Windsor to lay their bets on the Lions on Sundays.
 
The point is, momentum like we’ve never seen before is happening in too many places to even mention in a short blog.

As every state struggles for more revenue in a difficult economic time, the U.S. government can no longer deny 49 states the right to make money on something it is granting to just one.

“If Congress doesn’t act soon,” Texas Rep. Joe Barton told Covers.com's Larry Josephson in December, “we could end up with fractured rules and regulations that vary state to state, leaving more opportunity for fraud and fewer safeguards for players."

New Jersey is leading the charge. Others will follow.  And  the time is now to allow ourselves to start believing.

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Posted by Josh_Nagel
2 years ago

I've done a lot of reporting and research on this issue, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Obviously, getting that 1992 act overturned would be huge, but I'm curious how the individual states will respond. I know New Jersey and a couple of others will be writing bets the next day. Some might adopt a sort of lottery system. Some wills till hold out on some sort of moral "high ground," but not for long when they see the revenue numbers coming from the states taking bets. The Wire Act is close to defunct -- the passing of the UIGEA pretty much negated its only function, which was an antiquated umbrella under which online poker and sports betting were lumped whenever someone asked for proof that it was against federal law. It's interesting that poker is perceived as more socially acceptable in the view of lawmakers, but they will soon learn that sports wagering is what will pay (more) bills. Overturning the 1992 legislation might be a tough hill to climb, but the chances probably are better than they have been.
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Posted by NorthOf49Sports
2 years ago

Sports wagering on a single event is not illegal in Canada; it's not sanctioned, however non-sanction clauses in Canada do not make it illegal. Ask the gaming commissions and try what's called 'investigating' before copying and pasting. Your opinions/pipe dreams don't constitute a journal 'article'. Btw: I'm not your bro, thank the heavens, pretty boy.
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Posted by DavidGurney
2 years ago

The NFL's trademarks aren't being used.Nor are any of their telecasts.Only public information is used for wagering purposes.THEY HAVE NO STANDING.TAKE THAT OBAMA.
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Posted by ShadowWarrior
2 years ago

listen, we have river-boat gaming, cruise ship gaming, casinos, indian casino, tracks, dogs and horse, poker houses and on and on. so why not legalized sports wagering. me thinks it should be legal like prostitution and marijuana and gay marriages and ...
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Posted by doncinvegas
2 years ago

I hope your right Jon, I work in Las Vegas but wouldn't mind working in Florida, and flopping on the beach after booking the lol (Big Game)......
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Posted by kingofphilli
2 years ago

just a matter of time before every racetrack in the country will have a casino and sportsbook ... AMEN BROTHER AMEN....
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Posted by marcbryanjacob
2 years ago

We're hearing the Comartin bill might pass the Senate in March. That's the word around Caesars Windsor.
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Posted by BillyO
2 years ago

that is great to hear marc.....no reason why it should come though quickly.......for the border provinces of Canada.....and places like Windsor this would be an added incentive for US politicians to move on this as well
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Posted by baronman
2 years ago

VEGAS WILL BE SCREWED.ESPECIALLY SINCE ALOT OFF SHORE BOOKS DONRT PAY UP. I HAVE READ ALOT COVER MEMBERS NIGHTMARES.THANK GOD I GOT LOCAL BOOK. GO TO VEGAS ONCE A YEAR.
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Posted by boombaladi
2 years ago

nice article Jon, I share your compassion and enthusiasm, but not sure if I believe it will happen, we can only hope. It is time, it's America, but we have some strange shit on the books for laws. Start with the drinking age of 21. At 18 years of age, you can go to war, fight for your country, get married, have children, shit, you can even make a porno movie, but you can't have a beer. This is supposed to be Land of the Free. Let's get this done, it's time.
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Posted by Jon_Campbell
2 years ago

Thanks for commenting Dave202, but I respectfully disagree. I strongly believe it is inevitable the federal law will be overturned. I think the NFL knows it's inevitable now also, though they'll never admit it until they absolutely have to. How long can you base an entire league around gambling (fantasy, contests, pools, bookmaking) and continue to keep it illegal for all but one state? In this economy, states aren't putting up with it any longer and the feds are going to have to listen. It's just plain un-American to stand in the way of economic progress and we all know how this just further promotes illegal wagering the longer it stays the same. The UIGEA crackdown was all about paving the way and it was no coincidence the DoJ came out with its reversed legal opinion on the Wire Act of '61 in December. I am not confused. Legalized online wagering would be huge momentum for all betting, even though it will probably start with poker.
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Posted by eliminat0r85
2 years ago

As i have said in a thread i really just see the act being ratified to include new jersey among nevada, delaware, montana and oregon. Other states will have to fight the fight to get their names added to the list and lets be honest most won't. Only places with established casinos not just of the Indian variety will be fighting for the extra income. Hopefully Detroit joins I mean we have 3 casinos that would love to have Sportsbooks in downtown.
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Posted by dave202
2 years ago

And you are mixing your metaphors here. Sports betting is an entirely separate issue from online gaming. In fact the DOJ decision specifically stated that the Wire Act PROHIBITS sports betting. You are very confused.
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Posted by dave202
2 years ago

No way. The courts won't overturn a federal law. They will be under huge pressure from the NFL and MLB. Never going to happen.
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Posted by BillyO
2 years ago

I'll take that bet Dave202.......this is going to happen........Mr Kraft in New England is partnering with Steve Wynn.....they can all the deal what they want on paper.....but it is a partnership to develop the largest casino property in Mass......RFK did not develop the wire act to stop sports betting.....he did to stop the mafia......and the current DOJ has used the wire act to drive the average citizen back to the mafia.....once NJ goes live.......NY & Pennsylvania are not going to site idle....and watch NJ collect the $$.......this is all moving in the right direction once & for all
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Posted by mfran78
2 years ago

If this country were to legalize and regulate, Online Gaming, Medicinal Marijuana and Prostitution. We would eliminate our National Debt and make Federal buildings out of marble with 18K gold toilets, while running the A/C and leaving front doors open to cool the streets!! 80% of population is partaking in 1 if not all 3. The only ones profiting from it are the criminals.
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Posted by Jon_Campbell
2 years ago

Hey Northof49 - I said 'single game wagering in Canada', which is currently illegal in Canada. That's why you have to play on at least 2 games on lottery games like PRO.LINE. A new bill by Joe Cromartin passed the second reading in late 2011, which we covered well here on Covers. But hey bro, maybe posting comments in articles just isn't your schtick.
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Posted by tomnolan
2 years ago

come on man! i am sick and tired of flying to vegas every weekend. we need east coast action!
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Posted by NorthOf49Sports
2 years ago

Ummm. Sports wagering is legal in Canada at the federal, provincial, and local levels. One can go directly to a lotto kiosk at a convenience/gas station or a mall, or do it online using one of the province-approved gambling sites. There are sports and horse betting shows on cable TV, and Canada also houses several gaming associations for other, 'private enterprise', online betting sites. WTF man. Maybe you have us confused with Kansas or something, or journalism isn't your shtick.
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Posted by eliminat0r85
2 years ago

He said single game wagering. Pro-line and crap is not single game and even at the Ceasars windsor you can only do parlays. Not everyone likes parlays as you have to attach your bet to something risky, even if you attach it to a sure thing shit happens. If i am wrong and the bill for single game wagering was passed please post up the proof, I will apply for a new passport this week as i'm only 20-30 min from windsor.
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Posted by BillyO
2 years ago

http://www.canadiangaming.ca/ North take a few minutes to read up on your own country - the bill by Joe Comartin is going to the final reading shortly - and with Harper finally having a majority gov't - this will pass. https://prolinestadium.alc.ca/ In Atlantic Canada you can wager online - still parlays at this point - but it can be done - Onatrio & BC will be online this year - both just signed deals with Paddy Power & Labrokes to run there betting platforms. Say hi to Dorothy for me.
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Posted by DavidGurney
2 years ago

No more dealing with these Essex County greaseballs whose tears could flood the Sahara after you hit them.
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Posted by rosshuff
2 years ago

that'd be cool to go the track and bet some other sports or play a table game!!!
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Posted by packers1992
2 years ago

God I hope so.
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Posted by smitty73
2 years ago

just a matter of time before every racetrack in the country will have a casino and sportsbook ...
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Top Response

Posted by BillyO
2 years ago

"I'll take that bet Dave202.......this is going to happen........Mr Kraft in New England is partnering with Steve Wynn.....they can all the deal what they want on paper.....but it is a partnership to develop the largest casino property in Mass......RF..."