SI article brings new questions to NJ sports betting case

May 7, 2014 |
By: Jon Campbell
Sports Illustrated shed some new insight on the New Jersey sports betting case in an article that will appear in its May 12 issue.

The article, by Ryan Rodenberg and L. Jon Wortheim, uncovers testimony from depositions with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NCAA president Mark Emmert.

All of the four major pro leagues' commissioners were depositioned in the case, along with Emmert, in October and November of 2012. Both sides in the case wanted them to remain closed to the public and as a result the depositions of Gary Bettman, David Stern and Bud Selig were completely sealed and only portions of Goodell's and Emmert's were released.

What was most revealing from SI's report is that Goodell saw "three incidents" involving violations of the NFL's policy related to gambling, though those incidents weren't specified. Goodell also seemed to struggle to give a flat out 'no' when asked if he knew of any game-fixing incidents.

From the deposition, as reported by Sports Illustrated:  

Q. Can you think of any incidents, as the Commissioner of the NFL, where there has been game-fixing involved in an NFL game?
(Goodell lawyer) Jeffrey Mishkin: It's been asked and answered. You can answer it again.
A. I can't think of a specific incident off the top of my head.
Q. Is it fair to say that would be sufficiently significant that you would remember it if one had occurred?
MR. MISHKIN: I object to the form of the question.
A. Again, I've been involved with the NFL for 30 years, 30-plus years. There's a history that the NFL goes over 90 years now, so there's a long history of the NFL prior to my involvement. I don't -- I can't speak to all those issues.

The testimony is strange to put it mildly. Why couldn't Goodell say 'no' or 'not to my knowledge' when asked about game-fixing in the NFL? Is match fixing a legitimate possibility for an NFL game?

And why did both sides agree they wanted to keep these depositions sealed in the first place? Isn't this case in part about bringing sports betting above board?

The article and testimony bring about some new questions as the Supreme Court preps to make a decision on the fate of New Jersey's sports betting case. The prediction from Florida gaming lawyer Daniel Wallach is that we should have an answer on whether they'll decide to hear the case by late June.

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