NJ Governor Christie: Leagues ‘No Longer Have Moral High Ground’ On Sports Betting

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New Jersey’s governor had some choice words for the pro sports leagues on the issue of sports betting, in a new episode of Real Sports scheduled to air on HBO this week.

The episode featuring Gov. Chris Christie airs ahead of the New Jersey sports betting case — Christie vs. NCAA et al — that is slated for oral argument in the US Supreme Court in December.

NJ, Christie and sports betting

Christie spoke to Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, as the pro leagues continue to oppose New Jersey’s efforts to legalize sports betting within its own borders.

New Jersey has twice passed laws to attempt to repeal its own prohibition on sports betting. But the NCAA and the major pro sports leagues — the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL — have used a federal sports betting law (PASPA) to thwart that effort.

New Jersey has lost in the courts all along the way. But Christie and the state hope the Supreme Court will reverse that trend and strike down the federal sports betting ban in whole or in part as unconstitutional.

Leagues have ‘lost the moral high ground’

Christie, in talking with Real Sports correspondent Andrea Kremer, minces few words in his summation of the leagues and their acceptance of Las Vegas. The NHL and the NFL have already committed to franchises in the only state where single-game wagering is legal: Nevada.

CHRISTIE: “The hypocrisy is just so overwhelming.  They say because we have the Giants and the Jets and the Devils that somehow we shouldn’t be allowed to have gambling here because somehow it will threaten the integrity of the game. Well, you kidding? How isn’t it threatening the integrity of the game in Las Vegas for the NHL and the NFL?”

KREMER: “So how can they be against legalized sports betting in your state?”

CHRISTIE: “I mean that’s why they no longer have moral high ground on this. They cannot make the integrity of the game argument anymore, Andrea, because they have now gone to the sports gambling capital of America and put two of the four major sports now, having teams in that city. It’s over.”

The leagues, of course, are arguing that they oppose the technically unregulated sports betting that the New Jersey law would allow for. But previously the leagues have said that even legal and regulated sports wagering could harm game integrity.

However, the NBA, at least, and Commissioner Adam Silver have publicly changed their tune, looking for a “federal framework” for sports betting.

A piece of the action for the leagues?

Christie also surmises that if sports betting is going to expand in the US, the leagues want a way to profit from it. And he likely isn’t wrong.

More from the show:

CHRISTIE: “I think not only do they want a piece, but they want to determine the size of their piece. And I think they think they have a much better chance to do that by negotiating just with Congress than they do with 49 other states.”

KREMER: “Would the state of New Jersey give the NFL a piece of the action?”

CHRISTIE: “I’m a reasonable man. Come and talk to me.”

The show will air Tuesday at 10 p.m. Eastern/Pacific on HBO.